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MBAs prioritise family commitments over careers



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If you thought men would be more likely than women to compromise their careers for their family life, think again.

A recent study by Bain & Company of MBA students suggested work-life balance is no longer only a woman’s issue.

The study, which covered 1,500 young MBA students and graduates from top business schools in the US showed nearly equal number of women (51%) and men (50%) on the MBA track plan to prioritise non-work commitments over career progression.

The report added that it is, in fact, both men and women who enroll in business school for better career options and greater expertise and both genders aspire to similar jobs after graduation.

Nearly equal number of women and men also want to reach top management (69% of women and 68% of men).

However, both men and women also want more space in their professional lives for family and non-work commitments.

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According to the study, both MBAs view the trade-off between their career progression and other life priorities as the biggest barrier to their career goals.  When asked about the biggest obstacle to reaching their career goals, the most common concern among men and women was that keeping balance in their lives would derail their career dreams.

More than four out of 10 (42%) of the male MBAs and 40% of the female MBAs reported having such worries.

Chair of Bain’s Global Women’s Leadership Council and author of the study, Julie Coffman commentsed, “Overall, MBA students are thinking more holistically about what they want to accomplish both personally and professionally. They are no longer focused only on career trajectory. They want rich, multidimensional lives.  “

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Indeed, the study revealed that both genders anticipated nearly equal and active involvement in raising a family, with 80% of women and nearly 70% of men saying they intend to have a joint parenting role once they have a family.

More than half of women and 44% of men say they imagined a career path that will enable them to take breaks without jeopardizing their opportunity for promotion.

“That starts to raise the question: Is it really feasible to parent and to have a big job—at least the way those jobs are structured today?,” said Coffman.

Coffman advised companies to broaden the way they define and celebrate success by showing they value the roles of both men and women as caregivers and that they support and celebrate the many ways employees can be successful without sacrificing their non-work priorities.

“If graduates are looking for jobs that offer multiple ways to succeed, companies need to do more than just talk about flexibility.

“They also need to demonstrate that they have a work culture and management team members who embrace multiple paths to the top, and that they have developed and implemented flexible working models that may include options such as part-time employment, leaves of absence, telecommuting and job sharing,” she said.

Image: Shutterstock



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