The Surprising Glass Ceiling in Sweden and France

A Gender Gap: The Bottom Line at the Harvard Business School

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Sep 9, 2013    •    900 Views

For me, there was only one basic issue in yesterday’s lengthy NY Times article on the Harvard Business School (H.B.S.) gender gap.

First some background:

The equally smart and talented men and women who entered Harvard Business School fared very differently at Harvard Business School. In 2009, while 38% of the class were women, only 14% were in the top 5%. Similarly, 33% of the younger female faculty left between 2006 and 2007. Yes, people like Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO (Chief Operating Officer), were fine. But many other women were not.

Concluding they had a problem, the school administration designed a “gender makeover.” Curriculum, pedagogy, even the teacher-student dialogue changed. Male dominated classrooms that radiated power and conflict were studied and modified. Because class participation–50% of some grades–was a big problem, stenographers monitored classes to document when women spoke since professors could ignore their quieter, more tentative responses. In addition, some younger female faculty were coached.

The Bottom Line:

But the old problem remained. And that returns us to my basic issue–my bottom line. Yes, women rose to the top of the class after Harvard’s gender equity initiative. In 2013, 38% were in the top H.B.S. 5%.

But, in the “real” world, whether looking at the CEO level or below, the salary gap is massive. A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article reports that the top female CEOs earn an average of 18% or $5.3 million less than their male counterparts. In addition, below, you can see the overall gender salary gap for business school graduates:

From: NY Times. While data is from U of Chicago's Booth School, they apply to well.

From: The NY Times.

Sources and Resources: For more of the gender equity initiative at H.B.S., you might want to read this NY Times article and for the CEO gender pay gap, this Bloomberg Businessweek discussion provides an overview and specific examples.

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