Apr 4, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Getting an MBA may help women improve their pay and position within the job market. However, recent Financial Times research indicates that there’s still work to be done when it comes to leveling the playing field between women and men in business. Specifically,  the data indicates that an MBA from a leading business school actually widens the gender pay gap for women. Here’s a closer look at the analysis.

Before and After

MBA programs have amped up their efforts to attract more women, but the numbers may not be working in their favor. According to FT, women earn an average of nine percent less than their male counterparts before earning their degrees. However, the gap widens to 14 percent within three years of graduation from top MBA programs. In other words, the degree actually worsened the disparity.

Important to note? The degree to which this phenomenon plays out depends on the country. Female MBA grads in the UK have the bleakest outlook with the gender gap pay spiking from nine percent to a staggering 26 percent after graduation. The same pattern occurs to a lesser degree in the US with the gender gap pay increasing from 10 percent to 13 percent.

One country bucking the trend? China, where the gender pay gap actually drops from 11 percent to eight percent after graduation.

A Call for Change

According to experts, the data is a call for business schools to do more to highlight the fact that women still face challenges in the workplace.

Additionally, researchers should look more closely at the types of jobs women are choosing before and after entering degree programs. Elissa Ellis Sangster, executive director of Forté Foundation, a group of b-schools and businesses endeavoring to improve female access to business degrees, told FT that it may also be due to the fact that men begin their careers in higher-paying fields, which impacts what paths they follow after receiving their degrees.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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