Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Are Women MBAs Doomed to Divorce?

I am a fan of the Naked MBA blog, which bills itself as "the bare truth about what to expect from business school." Today I saw a post title that made my stomach drop: "For women, MBA = Divorce." I quickly clicked on the feed link to see what the heck this was about. The first sentence reads "The numbers are in and they don’t look good. " "Oh crap," I think. Then comes the obligatory next thought, "Well my marriage is strong. Business school and a good career aren't going to change that." I continued to read, cautiously. Ok, here's the main fact driving the title of the post: "Women MBAs are twice as likely to get divorced than the men with whom they graduate." Yikes. That is not good.

Hold on, here's the actual statistic: "12% of women MBAs reported having divorced or separated as compared to 5% of male MBAs." Um - 12%? Yeah it's a lot bigger than the male number, but still, 12%?? Maybe I'm crazy but that's still a small number to me. I'm not fearing for my marriage over 12%. The article goes to discuss that women think they can have it all but it's just a myth, etc etc. To an extent I agree with that, but don't you think we're jumping a bit to far to say that MBA = Divorce?

I clicked through to the WSJ article the post is referencing. More similar discussion.
"For women, a professional degree is often hazardous to marital health."
&
"'Unlike men,' she says, 'women can't have it all because there is a social stigma to having or being a stay-at-home spouse.'"
And then this statistic: "Women with M.B.A.s described themselves as divorced or separated more often than women with only bachelor's degrees (12% of female M.B.A.s compared with 11% of women with only bachelor's degrees) "

I stopped there. A 1% increase with an MBA is hardly anything to fret over. Sure, the difference between the statistics for women vs. men should be explored, but why do we have to jump to panic mode and imply that women are sabotaging their personal lives by pursuing advanced degrees?

11 comments:

HappyBunny said...

If it is an AA question, I'd say the argument suffers critical flaws. You don't know the backgrounds on these women who reported divorced. Having a MBA might not be the only thing they share. Also I'd be interested in how many of them are married before they applied for an MBA, how many of them married their boyfriend before they applied for an MBA... so no need to panic. I think we can have it all. (damn it,... that's what I'm trying to do, so it must be true :P)

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the good old conversation - "why don't you want to stay at home, cook my food, do my laundry and have my child? don't you love me?" I've had that conversation; it's a reality. There are men out there who want that life, and there are men who are absolutely turned on by strong, ambitious and independent women.

Samantha said...

It can also mean the women with mba's and other advanced degrees are smart enough to get out of bad marriages. Although I like to believe in till death do us part, I also like women having the monetary independence to be able to leave if they need too.

tinydancer said...

Samantha - Amen Sister!

JulyDream said...

It seems the papers are creating a story out of nothing again. I agree, 1% is nothing to write home about. What about those without a BA or graduate degree? People grow together and grow apart. I don't necessarily believe that it is because you go to school. It takes a strong man to handle MBA women as I would assume most of us are a bit independent with Type A personalities, not all men are that strong. :)

M B Drapier said...

The 12% of women that reported being divorced are/were "newly minted professionals in business." I wonder if the 11% undegrad stat references "newly minted" bachelors degree holders. If so, then the 1% difference is bigger than it seems. I'm guessing that far more graduate students are married when then start school than undergrads.

In fact, the WSJ article suspiciously fails to mention what percent of males vs. females and undegrads vs. grads are married to begin with. My own informal polling, suggests that there are more married men in business school than married women. That, again, makes the numbers look worse.

That said, don't pay attention to the fuzzy math (we all know that there are "lies, damn lies, and statistics.") Business school is hard on marriages and a lot of divorce ensues. That's not news. But if you've gotten into a top business school, you're already exceptional. Why shouldn't you expect your marriage to be the same way?

scarcityrent.com said...

Isn't the difference roughly the same than the one between women with law and medical degrees? And smaller between males with law and medical degrees? Even not knowing the real sample size (I doubt is around 100.000), shouldn't the headline be something like "doctors more likely to divorce than lawyers?" wait, they want to sell papers, right? silly me...

Bianca Reagan said...

"12% of women MBAs reported having divorced or separated as compared to 5% of male MBAs."

That doesn't take into account a whole Nipsey Russell of factors, including the fact that there are whole lot more men out there (where exactly does this article refer to? MBAs in the U.S. or on the planet?) with MBAs than there are women with MBAs.

Viagra Online said...

Divorces going on in MBA don't mean that everyone there is going to go through the same thing. This is only false alarm don't worry ladies.

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