By contrast, about 66 percent of the moms with MBAs who attended the least selective universities were working full-time in 2003, but that fell to about 48 percent in 2010.
She said that implies that in a strong economy, married moms who graduated from the best universities can hold out for the job they want. And in a weak economy, they can likely beat out the women from less selective universities to land a job if they want it.
Other researchers also have found evidence that moms with MBAs who attended prestigious universities tend to be more likely to "opt out" than their peers who get other advanced degrees, such as medical doctors and lawyers.
Catherine Wolfram, an associate professor at the University of California's Haas School of Business who has studied this issue, said one problem may be that women who earn MBAs tend to be most qualified to work in business and finance. Unlike other fields such as medicine, she said it could be that women in business and finance find that there is little flexibility for going part-time or making other family accommodations.