2015 will be the year of the female entrepreneur, but not for the reasons you’re probably thinking.
Yes, women have increased buying power and we can therefore expect to see more female-centric products and companies emerge. Yes, the rapid advancements in technology have made the once-implausible idea of running a company and having a family a reality. But there’s something else going on. Something far less obvious, but far more influential on the career choices of the top female business minds.
First, female acceptance into the nation’s top business schools is dramatically increasing. According to a report from The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, women accounted for 37% of North American MBA students enrolled in 2012-2013. And at the nation’s top schools, females have an even larger presence.
At Harvard Business School, 41% of MBA students enrolled in the 2016 class are female and University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School MBA class of 2015 is composed of 42% women – making Wharton the most gender-diverse of the world’s top schools. Also at Wharton, 41% of the undergraduate class of 2018 is female.
Let’s compare that with 1999. Just fifteen years ago – not even a full generation – both Wharton and Harvard Business School stood at only 30% female enrollment and University of Chicago Booth School of Business enrolled only 22% females.
Clearly, more females than ever are attending business school and honing profound business acumen. But the real key to why female entrepreneurship will rise rests in what happens to these women after they earn their degrees.
A study conducted by Bloomberg Businessweek shows that the gender wage gap for MBA graduates not only persists, but is widening!
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, “Starting salaries for women graduating in 2012 averaged $105,059, or $8,300 (7.3 %) less than their male counterparts. Ten years earlier, women earned $83,404, or $1,849 (2.2 %) less than men.”
This is the nexus I speak of. More and more women are gaining top-notch business education and knowledge. Yet, when they enter the workforce they can’t reap the full financial benefits of that knowledge – at least not as fully as their male counterparts. It is this paradox that will drive women into entrepreneurship. At PayPal, we’re here to support female entrepreneurs with tools and support to help their business thrive.
As women look to maximize their return on their education investment, find roles that are intellectually and creatively stimulating, and yes – raise a family and have it all – they will gravitate toward entrepreneurship, where they can make their own rules and reap all the benefits they deserve.
This article is published in collaboration with LinkedIn. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
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Author: Christina Smedley is the VP of Global Brand & Communications at PayPal.
Image: A Businesswoman is silhouetted as she makes her way under the Arche de la Defense. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann.