Working women: what’s the secret to higher earnings? Marry poor. The male/female earning gap has many sources. One notable one is that some women aren’t aggressive enough. They don’t ask for raises and promotions; enter the “lean-in” mantra.
But even among high achievers, top tier MBAs like Sheryl Sandberg, not everyone wants it all—if they can afford to eschew it. Economists Marianne Bertrand and Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence Katz tracked the careers of University of Chicago MBAs from 1990 to 2000 to untangle wage disparities among potentially high earners. They hoped to understand why there are so few women CEOs and hedge fund managers. They found a significant earnings gap between men and women which grew over time.
The large and growing gap is not due to timid female MBAs. Some of it is attributed to different skills, jobs before the MBA and that male business students typically take more finance classes and women more marketing classes. But a majority of the difference is due to women taking time out of the labor force and then working less after having children. Women without children usually don’t take time off and most of their earnings disparity with men can be explained by differences in their skills.