Gender and the MBA: Differences in Career Trajectories, Institutional Support, and Outcomes

Sarah E. Patterson, Sarah Damaske, Christen Sheroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study asks how men’s and women’s careers diverge following MBA graduation from an elite university, using qualitative interview data from 74 respondents. We discover men and women follow three career pathways post-graduation: lockstep (stable employment), transitory (3 or more employers), and exit (left workforce). While similar proportions of men and women followed the lockstep pathways and launched accelerated careers, sizable gender differences emerged on the transitory pathway; men’s careers soared as women’s faltered on this path—the modal category for both. On the transitory path, men fared much better than women when moving to new organizations, suggesting that gender may become more salient when people have a shorter work history with a company. Our findings suggest that clear building blocks to promotions reduce gender bias and ambiguity in the promotion process, but multiple external moves hamper women, putting them at a clear disadvantage to men whose forward progress is less likely to be stalled by such moves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-332
Number of pages23
JournalGender and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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