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New Data Shows Salary Growth for Women MBAs

Making changes to your career is a big decision. Should you apply for other positions? Should you pivot to a different industry? For an MBA grad, the career options are endless, so it can be tricky to determine which move is right for you. You’ll make better decisions if you have more information, especially when it comes to compensation.

Zach Mayo is the Chief Operating Officer at RelishCareers, a hiring marketplace that connects top employers with business school students and alumni. While Relish is mostly focused on the recruiting process, they have a separate platform, TransparentCareer that uses data from approximately 60,000 users to track salary and cultural information about various MBA careers. Mayo recently shared data with Forté that shows positive changes for women across several industries.

Among TransparentCareer’s users, there are 20% more women working in diversified financial services than there were in 2016. There are 39% more women in manufacturing than there were in 2018.

Mayo told Forté, “I think some of the changes in the female representation were surprising, particularly the strong growth in something like manufacturing that isn’t, from my business school experience, necessarily an industry where there’s a large female presence—but it seems to be growing.”

He also shared an industry-specific look at how the women’s salaries in their database compare to the men’s salaries. A few highlights:

  • Between 2014 and 2016, the MBA women in diversified financial services were making an average of $16,900 less than the men each year. Between 2017 and 2019, the women had overcome that gap and were making about $4,000 more than the men in their industry.
  • Between 2014 and 2016, MBA women working in investment banking were making about $5,100 less than the men. Between 2017 and 2019, the salaries of women in TransparentCareer’s database who work in this industry surpassed the men’s salaries — and the women now make about $14,800 per year more than the men.
  • Between 2014 and 2016, MBA women working in the nonprofit, social impact, and social work category made about $10,800 more than the men in their industry, and they kept that consistent from 2017 through 2019.

Mayo also sent Forté the average total compensation numbers (including salary, bonuses, stocks, and other compensation) for all the MBAs in their database, broken out by gender. Within three years of graduation, the average total compensation for a man with an MBA was $155,757, while the average total compensation for a woman with an MBA was $145,348. Even at this level, the women make an average of $10,409 less per year than the men. Mayo noted, “That’s still a substantial difference, or at least some difference, in terms of total compensation across all industries between males and females.”

As new members join and share their pay history, they’re helping others work toward pay equity. Mayo said, “Looking at this hopefully will help people understand some of the changes and trends that are going on in certain industries with regards to female participation and compensation, and they can potentially use that information to make more informed decisions about their recruiting targets.”

For MBA students and recent grads, having free access to this data will help them plan their careers. Mayo explained, “Students can use it to see the range of compensation that’s available in different industries. They can filter it by their specific degree and schools and they can see what candidates like them have earned at different companies and in different industries. We encourage them to use that data for salary negotiations.” This information is especially valuable for women, who are often reluctant to negotiate. The more data women have about the salaries of people doing comparable work, the more confident they’ll feel about asking for what they deserve.

RelishCareers is an online platform that connects master’s-level business school students and alumni with corporate recruiters. Relish also operates TransparentCareer, a research platform that provides data on compensation and company culture. Students can sign up for free at and

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