All the talk by business school deans about recruiting more women into MBA programs is apparently causing male applicants to believe they may unfairly lose out to affirmative action goals.
A new survey by Stacy Blackman Consulting, a prominent MBA admissions consulting firm, found that more than 34% of business school applicants now believe that the admissions process is less rigorous for women than it is for men. “The perception is that the schools are falling all over themselves to get females through the door,” says Blackman, founder and president of the firm that bears her name.
For several years now, several highly selective business schools have been aggressively working to increase their enrollment of women. They’re discounting MBA tuition by putting more scholarship money on the table for female candidates, doing more recruiting events for young women at colleges, and putting together female applicants with successful female alumni. Harvard Business School recently announced its own program to bring female undergrads to campus over a weekend.
‘WOMEN ARE JUMPING THROUGH THE SAME HOOPS AS MEN’
“Being a woman, I don’t know why the process is perceived as less rigorous. They are jumping through the same hoops as men. The schools are recruiting women but they are not just recruiting them to get any old female through the door. They are trying to attract the right people. They are not changing the requirements. They are trying to get to the right crop of young women.”
The survey—an open poll taken largely by users to Blackman’s website and social media channels—was conducted between April 21, 2015 and May 6, 2015, and had 739 respondents. It was not a controlled sample with a response rate. Blackman said about 35% of the respondents were female.
Despite the increasing view that admission officers may be less rigorous in evaluating female candidates, the survey also found that 63.5% of the respondents feel that the lower percentage of women in business school is a significant issue. At most MBA programs, little more than a third of the students are female. The top school with the highest entering class composed of women is UC-Berkeley’s Haas School which in the fall enrolled a class that was 43% female.
THIS YEAR’S APPLICANTS ALSO PLAN TO APPLY TO MORE SCHOOLS
“The issue of women in business school is in the spotlight, and the good news is that it may encourage more women to apply and more schools to improve the environment for women,” added Blackman. “We have seen that women are very successful in the admissions process, as well as in business school and throughout recruiting.”
The survey also found that 45% of the respondents plan on applying to five or more business schools in the 2015-2016 cycle, with 17% intending to apply to six schools, and 23% planning to apply to five schools. Last year, only 11% of the respondents said they would apply to half a dozen MBA programs.
“That is a significant uptick in the number of schools people are applying to,” says Blackman, who has been doing a survey of prospective applicants for four years. “When we started the survey, they applied to two or three schools and this year significant numbers are applying to five or more. Five is getting to be a large number of schools to apply to. but I attribute it to the lessening of the requirements, They seem to be saying, it’s less challenging to apply so why not throw another school into the mix.”
INTEREST IN USING THE GRE FOR B-SCHOOL CONTINUES TO INCREASE
Reduced application requirements, with fewer and shorter essays, prompted 60.5% to apply to more programs, according to the survey. Yet, with a few B-school programs adding video as part of the application process, 29% of respondents cited limitations in revealing their true selves, ideas and goals via video essays or video interviews.
Other survey results:
Interest in the the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) grew from 7.7% last year to 10.9% this this year, while 89.1% plan to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) this year, compared to 92.4% last year.
Interest in consulting careers post business school continued with a slight increase from 38% last year to 39% this year, while job interest in finance decreased from 24% last year to 18% this year. Interest in entrepreneurship was steady, capturing 24% of career plans this year and 25% last year.
About 49% of the respondents said that reputation is the most important factor influencing the decision to attend a particular business school, followed by 17% for strength of job placement, and 13% for strength of alumni network. Last year, 51% cited reputation and 22% cited the strength of job placement.
Career advancement ranked as the top reason to attend business school at 45% (44% percent ranking it as most important last year),