More Women Getting MBAs But….

Women in the MBA Class of 2010 typically sent more applications but received fewer job offers compared with their male MBA peers, according to a study by the Graduate Management Admission Council. A typical female MBA last year sent out a median 25 resumes or applications, five more than men, and received four interviews and ultimately one job offer. In contrast, male MBAs sent out five fewer applications—20% fewer resumes—yet received five interviews—25% more–and two job offers—twice the number nailed down by women.

Despite those lopsided results, more women than ever before are heading to business school for their MBAs. Last year, in fact, a record 105,900 women took the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), the exam taken to apply to business school, according to GMAC, owner of the GMAT. It was the second year in which women broke the 100,000 mark in the number of GMAT exams taken.

By and large, the increase is due to recruitment efforts by business schools, which have been actively encouraging more women to apply for MBAs. Indeed, U.S. women represent the largest female pipeline to business schools in the world. Some 50,053 women—the largest number of exams taken by women in any one country—sat for the GMAT in the testing year ending June 30, 2010. U.S. women represented nearly a third of the global business school pipeline of women.

These and other findings come from a wealth of Graduate Management Admission Council studies that present a fascinating portrait of women and the MBA. By and large, the results of these studies are very positive. Even the data that shows men having twice as many job offers as women is offset by the fact that a greater percentage of women (59.3%) indicated they definitely made the right decision in the choice of their first job post-graduation compared with men (58.4%).

Women received 44% of MBAs in 2007, the latest year for which data is available, up from 39% a decade earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Education. That translates to a whopping 75% increase in the last 10 years. Despite the gains, however, women remain under represented in business graduate schools. The Department of Education numbers show that women currently receive 61% of all master’s degrees awarded, some 13 percentage points higher than the number of MBA grads who are female.

Highlights of GMAC Studies:

Women in the Business School Talent Pipeline

GMAT Examinees

105,900 – The Most Women Ever

Of the total 263,979 exams taken, the number of GMAT exams taken by women was 105,900 and accounted for  40.1% of the global business school pipeline in the testing year ending June 30, 2010 (TY 2010). The number of tests taken by men was 158,079 (59.9%). This testing year also marked the second time women broke the 100,000 mark in number of GMAT exams taken, and reflects the lowest male-female ratio (1.49) and a 3.3 percent average annual growth rate for the past 10 testing years (TY 2001 to TY 2010).

Source: GMAC Profile of Graduate Management Admission Test Candidates, 2006-2010

US Women Are Largest Female Pipeline = 50,053

The United States was the country with the largest number of exams taken by female citizens: 50,053 of the total 127,061 taken by US citizens in TY 2010. Overall, US women represented nearly 33% of the global business school pipeline of women.

Source: GMAC Profile of Graduate Management Admission Test Candidates, 2006-2010

Female Majority Greatest Among East Asian Citizens

Among 10 global regions, the largest percentages of female citizens who sat for the GMAT in TY 2010 were from East Asia (54.6%) accounting for 27,320 of 50,056 of the region’s total exams. Central Asia had the smallest percentage of women (25.1%) who accounted for 7,429 of 29,570 of the region’s total exams.

Source: GMAT Examinee Data, TY 2010

World’s Largest Majorities of Female GMAT Examinees (Five of the Top 25 countries)

For some countries, more female than male citizens sit for the GMAT exam. Among the top 25 citizen groups sitting for the exam in TY 2010, the following five had a majority of female examinees:

  • • China (second largest GMAT citizen group, 62.8% of 30,264 examinees)
  • • Taiwan (fifth largest GMAT citizen group, 57.3% of 3,951 examinees)
  • • Thailand (9th largest GMAT citizen group, 58.4% of 1,984 examinees)
  • • Russia (10th largest GMAT citizen group, 56.6% of 2,019 examinees)
  • • Vietnam (14th largest GMAT citizen group, 59.4% of 1,196 examinees)

Source: GMAC Profile of Graduate Management Admission Test Candidates, 2006-2010

  • I got to this discussion late (am just starting some research for an article). I think the question of what types of jobs men and women have is very important. In 1996, when I did research for my dissertation, men tended to have line positions (competitive, take risks, dealing directly w/ customers…) while women went for staff positions (more internal, aiding others within the company such as law and human resources). The tendency is for promotions to be made from line positions, thus higher pay. So, I would maintain that much of the literature does not differentiate the type of job, or control for it in their studies. I would love to hear more about this.

  • @Johnie Walker: to answer your question (do women apply to the same jobs as men)…I don’t know. I know one of the things the Catalyst study held constant was industry, but I really don’t recall the details. Take a look at the Catalyst study if you haven’t already…the blog post I provided the link for goes into some detail, but not a lot. Sorry I can’t be more help.

    My guess is there probably are differences in the types of jobs men and women apply for, differences that would impact compensation. But whether or not that’s the sole reason for the pay differences found by GMAT or Catalyst…you need to ask somebody a lot more familiar with the research than I am. Good luck!

  • LaurenHBS

    Thanks for this informative article. While the precent of women in business school is still significantly lower than the percent in med school or law school, it’s good to see that b-schools are increasingly recognizing the importance of diversity. Hopefully more employers in more industries learn the same lesson over time.

    For advice and my thoughts about life at HBS (as a female!), follow me on Twitter @LaurenHBS

  • “Women received 44% of MBAs in 2007, the latest year for which data is available, up from 39% a decade earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Education. That translates to a whopping 75% increase in the last 10 years.”

    Am I missing something here, or do I need to study harder for the the GMAT Quant section? Doesn’t this sentence indicate a 12% increase (44/39 * 100)?

  • Hi Everyone,

    I’m Sabeen Sheikh, GMAC’s Manager for Survey Research, and, the author of this study. First, thanks to Poets and Quants for the coverage and for diving so deeply into the research.

    I just wanted to point out that the data from the Alumni Perspectives Survey is not limited to “a typical female MBA” but refers to women from all around the world that have graduated from different types of programs from MBAs to, for example, Master’s of Accountancy. The women in the study also had varying levels of work experience (i.e., women were statistically more likely than men to have had an internship or a work project that continued as employment after graduation). Additionally, even though men sent a slightly higher median number of applications/resumes, the vast majority of men (89%) and women (84%) from the class of 2010 were employed at the time of the survey. GMAC offers the full alumni survey findings in a report and interactive research tool available at these sites, http://www.gmac.com/alumniperspectivessurvey and http://www.gmac.com/interactiveresearch. I invite anyone interested to take a look of both.

    Thanks again,
    Sabeen Sheikh

  • I suspect it’s because women are not as comfortable as men are at tooting their own horns.

  • Johnnie Walker

    Louis,

    My gosh you nailed me. But if catalyst keeps everything constant, then you are right, the number means something. Sometimes, you see these big headlines, and the research in itself is a bit skewed, therefore presents different results.

    Now I will put another caveat, do women apply to the same jobs as men? I mean women may be more interested in certain jobs that have less openings etc. Can you talk on that too?

    Thanks!

  • It may not be rocket science, but I gotta think it’s more complicated than that. John, did you come to any big conclusions about why women fared poorly relative to men? About a year ago, Catalyst came out with a report that had similar conclusions: http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/blogs/mba_admissions/archives/2010/03/catalyst_women_mbas_lag_behind_men_in_jobs_pay_promotions.html

    What fascinated me about the Catalyst study was that they held just about everything constant (years of experience, industry, etc.) so that they were basically looking at two groups of people who were identical except for gender…and the gap in job market performance (positions attained, starting salaries, etc.) persisted.

    Anyway, I’d be curious to hear what everyone thinks about the cause. And thanks, John, for what looks like a huge research effort.

    Louis Lavelle
    Associate Editor
    Bloomberg Businessweek

  • Johnnie Walker

    “The average age of a female GMAT examinee is 26.2, slightly younger than male examinees with an average age of 27.6.”

    Therein lies the explanation for less interviews invitations and/or offers. They are younger. It is not rocket science for godsake.