Female MBA students are shunning some of the most prosperous sectors for employment including technology and energy because they may lack the ambition of their male counterparts, suffests a new study released this week.
Less women MBAs opt for business roles in a "tech-intensive" industry than male MBAs, and are 22% more likely to quit these jobs.
Only 36% of MBAs return to tech-intensive industries despite the fact that 75% of them come from a technical background. MBAs with a non-technical background also shun the tech sector: only 14% opt for a job in the industry.
Catalyst’s report, High Potentials in Tech-Intensive Industries, surveyed nearly 6,000 MBAs who graduated from programs between 2007 and 2011.
The report suggests female MBA candidates lack the ambition of their male counterparts. The data show that 84% of women working in tech-intensive industries immediately after graduating aspired to a chief executive’s role, compared with 97% of men.
Separate Catalyst research also found that female MBAs are more likely to earn less than males in their first roles since graduating. These women are also more likely to start at an entry-level job in the technology sector than men – 55% to 39%. Women
“Women remain in the minority throughout the pipeline in STEM organizations today, and overwhelmingly report feeling like outsiders,” said said Anna Beninger, director of research at Catalyst.
Despite the success of female executives in the industry such as Sheryl Sandberg, COO of social media giant Facebook, Catalyst found that female MBAs lack role models.
“Women working for STEM companies have fewer female role models than those in other industries, and there are fewer senior women to serve as sponsors for junior women,” added Anna.
The findings come a week after Apple and Facebook stoked controversy by announcing plans to pay for the freezing of female employees’ eggs to preserve fertility.
The biggest Silicon Valley tech groups are male-dominated. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple and Microsoft employ women in just 30% of their positions, according to June data.
The Catalyst report also says that big technology groups, which are some of the biggest MBA hirers this year, face a crisis of talent management.
“STEM companies face a serious talent drain as women take their skills elsewhere,” said Deborah Gillis, Catalyst CEO.
It called on technology companies to transform their “male-dominated” culture: “By addressing the barriers that hold women back from day one, organizations can begin to maximize the talent pool and become an employer of choice for high-potential women throughout the pipeline.”
The report calls on technology firms to do more to attract and retain female talent, such as sponsoring new hires, ensuring equal pay, and providing a flexible work environment.
“These organizations also have a remarkable opportunity to turn things around, by focusing on how they can make all their talent – men and women alike – feel equally valued,” added Deborah.