Business School or Med School for Moms?
Jul 22 2008

Thanks to a Mommy Track’d post called MBAs Are Opting Out for the link to the article by Reuters called More women with MBAs take mommy track than doctors: study.  

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I can’t say I’m surprised for a variety of reasons.  I have an MBA and although I never thought of completely opting out of the business world to be a full time stay at home mom (other than the first 6 months of my kids’ lives), I did choose a more flexible transition back into the workforce by starting my own company.  That way I could start them off in part time care until I felt they and I were ready for them to go to full time care. 

According to the article by Reuters, “The University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business study of nearly 1,000 Harvard undergraduates found that 15 years after graduation, business school graduates were more likely than doctors or lawyers to leave the workforce.“  

It continues by saying “Those surveyed were about 37 years old and had at least one child. Fifteen years after graduating from Harvard College, 28 percent of the women who went on to get MBAs were stay-at-home moms. By comparison, only 6 percent of MDs stopped working outside of the home.  Of the MBAs surveyed, 27 percent had careers in the financial sector and 17 percent worked in consulting. The majority of the MDs worked in specialties centered on women (13 percent in obstetrics/gynecology), children (31 percent in pediatric medicine), and family.” 

As a business student, there’s not often a set path like there is for med students.  In the medical field, you finish school, you do your internship, you do your residency, and then you get hired into a private practice or university to continue in your field.  Sure the field of medicine changes but apparently not as fast as the field of business.  

Business is all about your network and skills.  Moms/Parents who stay at home with their kids are advised to continue building and keep up with their network.  Medicine is definitely about your skills, but you usually don’t get hired on to a hospital or private practice based on who you know, it has more to do with what you know and where you got your degree! 

I find it interesting that I know several MBA women friends who have opted out of pursuing a career while their kids are young and at the same time my OB/GYN and pediatrician (who both happen to be women) came back to work shortly after their kids were born.  Our pediatrician came back to work only about 8 weeks after her baby was born.  I think both of them are amazing and incredible doctors! 

I remember my OB saying how important it was that I take it easy after the baby was born and to take as much time off as possible.  I then made a comment to her about the fact she returned to work after her babies were born and she was able to manage it, and she kind of stared at me blankly and didn’t seem to know what to say. 

So what do you think the reasons are for the different parenting choices made between moms who got a business degree and those who got a medical degree?  I have some ideas, but I’d love to know what you think.

Author: | Filed under: diversity, mom, mother, parenting | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »

5 Comments on “Business School or Med School for Moms?”

  1. 1 Kristin Gorski said at 8:25 AM on July 23rd, 2008:

    Really interesting article, Aruni. I think a few factors may be at work here:

    1. Years of education: It takes about 3 full-time years to complete an MBA, while it can take a minimum of 6 years to get an MD (and often more depending on specialty, fellowships, etc.). After investing so much time and money into becoming a doctor, I know some find it impossible to leave it. Being a doctor has become a huge part of their identity, and there is much to pay back financially in terms of loans, etc.

    2. Ability to work from home: Those moms with MBAs can work part-time from home. It is tough and rare to work part-time, and nearly impossible to work from home, for an MD, so they have to work full time.

    3. MD mom as primary breadwinner: MD moms often bring in the biggest salary in a couple. So, the (non-MD) dad stays home with the kids while Dr. Mom brings in the big salary. When two MBAs are married, the dad MBA often makes more than the mom MBA, so he keeps working and she stays home.

    What do you think?

    Kristin Gorskis last blog post..Blogscope down for a moment

  2. 2 Maricris said at 10:07 AM on July 23rd, 2008:

    I can only stipulate that the reason Medical profession is hard to give up is mainly by demand, monetary value factor involved and by the oath they took. Not to say they spent years and years and lots of money getting to where they are now. I think that, more so, makes it harder for them to give it up so easily.

  3. 3 Nicole said at 10:16 AM on July 23rd, 2008:

    Very interesting! Kristin’s factors sound right on the money!! I have my MBA and have also started my own business, now. I am also a work-at-home IT consultant. We hired a nanny, though, but this flexibility of working at home and working for myself allows me to go visit the boys every chance I can. I see them MUCH more than if I were commuting and working out of the home. However, being the primary breadwinner, I would not SAH full-time.

    I hope my business takes off so if my WAH status is ever in jeopardy, I still can keep up with this lifestyle we have. :)

    Nicoles last blog post..Cry-it-Out to Wean from Breastfeeding?

  4. 4 Asianmommy said at 2:15 PM on July 23rd, 2008:

    I agree–It’s hard to give up a profession that requires 4 years of undergrad, 4 years of med school, about 3 years of residency, and maybe 3 or more years of fellowship. Many MDs are in a boatload of debt when they finally graduate from med school. They need to work to pay off their loans. Also, when first starting out, they need to build up their practices before they start earning enough to cover their malpractice insurance. They do sometimes eventually outearn their spouses and end up being the sole breadwinner of the family while their spouse stays home. This might make more financial sense for the family.

  5. 5 Aruni said at 6:11 PM on July 23rd, 2008:

    @Kristen Gorski – those are all great points and I agree completely! It’s interesting that MBA women can put in years of service at a company but maybe because they were getting paid a reasonable amount don’t view it the same as an MD’s time spent on residency, etc.

    @Maricris – So the fact that they’ve already invested so much time in their education, makes them less likely to give it all up? Probably so.

    @Nicole – I didn’t know you had your MBA too. As Kristen said, we probably have mor options of working at home with flexible choices. I wish you luck with your business!

    @Asianmommy – So it comes down to money/debt as the motivating factor! I wonder how many spouses of women doctors stay home…