Are you thinking of enrolling yourself in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree? Through your research, you know about the benefits of having an MBA degree – the obvious being financial gain. According to Payscale, a self-reporting website where users can anonymously submit salaries, employees with Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees can earn between S$74,445 to S$130,000, depending on the job type.
Furthermore, pursuing an MBA degree allows you to upgrade your business and management skills, gain access to elite networking/business circles and fast-track your career advancement. Depending on your career, an MBA degree can help to propel you to the next level.
There are a lot of resources out there on MBA degrees – among others, you can easily check how much it costs, the pros and cons between full-time and part-time MBA degrees, ratings of business schools, and the faculty. We would like to add on to the discussion by offering you 3 women-specific tips for those of you who are seriously considering to pursue your MBA degrees.
Tip #1: Enroll sooner rather than later
If you have fairly few responsibilities and have been thinking about enrolling in an MBA degree but have yet to make a decision, we suggest you reach a conclusion soon. Like other professional or post-graduate programs, pursuing an MBA degree is likely to take away most of your time. Not only you will be tied up with classes and homework, you will also be involved in other, equally important extra-curricular activities, such as networking sessions.
If you decide to enrol in an MBA later in your career, you might have other barriers such as family obligations or (unpaid) care work that might restrict you from fully benefitting from the MBA degree.
We hate to say this, but unless technology allows men to incubate babies, women will still be stuck with child-bearing duties (should she chooses to have children). You should also opt for earlier enrollment if you foresee yourself taking primary responsibility in some form of care work in the future: this can range from taking care of elderly/sick parents to lack of spousal/partner support in motherhood duties.
The bottom line is this: the fewer responsibilities you have while you pursue your MBA degree, the better.
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Tip #2: Have a Supportive Partner
Singapore is the top Asian nation for gender equality. However, even in this day and age, traditional gender roles and stereotypes are hard to shake. Despite women breaking glass ceiling after glass ceiling, some people still think that women should prioritise her husband’s career over hers.
Unfortunately, society has yet to stop frowning at men who choose to prioritise their partners’ careers. It is argued that more men are successful than women for this simple reason: traditional norms expect women to support men, not the other way around. They don’t have to worry about household duties or cooking (or anything like that) because they left it all to their wives.
Regardless of your personal view on household responsibilities, it would really help if your partner is supportive of your ambition in pursuing an MBA degree. A supportive partner can help in many ways: from taking on more household chores to free up your time, to taking the primary role in child raising, to helping you finish your MBA degree without incurring extra debt.
How do you know whether your partner is supportive? You will need to ask him – perhaps you can ask how he feels about women earning more than man?
Tip #3: Your Viewpoint as a Woman is Important
More women than men enrol in degrees, but more men than women enrol in MBAs.
You might be in for a minor culture shock once you find out that most of your classmates will be men. We do not advocate men vs women comparisons – we believe that both men and women bring different, but equally important viewpoints to the table.
However, the fact that society is used to seeing men as leaders (and subsequently women as followers) might see your unique viewpoint as a woman ignored in class. This is not a baseless accusation: in a classroom led by a male teacher, male classmates talk 2.5 times more than female classmates. While presenting, men interrupt women much more than women interrupt men.
Women also tend to adopt a less assertive speaking style, which undermines their wealth of experience and expertise. Sometimes, men also take it upon themselves to ‘mansplain’ subject matters to women even when she is clearly an expert – see women recount their mansplaining experiences in academia here).
This is a shame because women have a lot to offer in a business school. For example, women have a different investing style if compared to men – women’s passive approach tend to outperform active approaches favoured by men. A woman pursuing an MBA degree is an ambitious woman who is prepping herself for leadership positions.
She doesn’t have to imitate a man – she already possesses unique strengths that are suitable for her own leadership style. Having great negotiating skills can help you navigate through this interesting power dynamics in the classroom.
Without a doubt, enrolling in an MBA degree course can expose and equip you with new knowledge and skills that can help you stay relevant in your industry.
There will be new challenges in the rapidly changing business world, and pursuing an MBA degree can help you address those challenges – giving you that competitive edge over your peers.
However, we should point out that an MBA degree cannot guarantee a career advance – you will have to be ready to apply your newly-acquired hard and soft skills into your professional life, regardless whether you are a man or a woman. Qualifications are meaningless without great performance. It will be a hard journey (nothing worth pursuing is easy!), but you are more than capable – Michelle Obama said so. Good luck!
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I’m not sure whether MBA is a good route to go down unless there’s a direct correlation between completing it and your career progression. If you do the MBA too early, there’s not much point to it since your career has only just started.
I reckon too many people are doing MBA just for the sake of having a higher education credential. They should think about both the financial and opportunity costs of the MBA more carefully!