SOME LEADING BUSINESS SCHOOLS HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY BOOSTED FEMALE MBA ENROLLMENT
For years, business schools have struggled to increase enrollment of women in MBA programs. Typically, women constitute little more than a third of the enrolled students in many leading full-time MBA programs compared to nearly half in both law and med schools. But a few schools have made significant progress in admitting larger percentage of women in recent years.
Some 50 years after women were first admitted to its full-time MBA program, Harvard Business School welcomed an unprecedented number of women to its Class of 2014: some 40% of the incoming 925 MBA students, up from the previous year’s record 39% and the total of 36% in the Class of 2012. The latest entering class at Wharton is composed of 42% women. At Darden, women make up only 30% of the Class of 2015.
Bruner says that convincing more women to go to business school would benefit everyone. “Increasing the representation of women in business school programs would enhance the educational experience of both men and women,” he wrote. “Achieving this is constrained by the small numbers and proportion of women seeking education in business. Therefore a priority should be to increase the pool of qualified applicants.”
HOW TO GET MORE WOMEN TO GO TO BUSINESS SCHOOL
He spelled out a list of actions he believes are necessary to get more women in the pipeline:
▪Improve K-12 education to promote entry into, and graduation from, undergraduate programs.
▪Intensify outreach from undergraduate and graduate business schools to undergraduate students.
▪Expand public and private financial aid for women students.
▪Promote programs that help undergraduate women transition into business careers. These include short certificate programs and one-year “Masters in Management” programs to be taken immediately after undergraduate school.
▪Relax H1-B visa requirements for international women seeking to work in the U.S. upon graduation from MBA programs.
“Our experience at Darden shows that even modest increases in the enrollment of women can have a transformational impact on the character and culture of the educational program,” Bruner added. “Greater representation of women in classrooms, learning teams, and project groups changes the conversation: richer, more diverse, and greater respect for differences. Students (women and men) report higher levels of satisfaction with the learning experience. Faculty report better classroom and team results. And corporate recruiters report greater satisfaction with the pool of talent they encounter. The experience at Darden is confirmed by empirical research elsewhere, some of which was offered as background reading to this meeting.”