McCombs School of Business | Ms. Registered Nurse Entrepreneur
GMAT 630, GPA 3.59
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Engineer
GMAT 720, GPA 7.95/10 (College follows relative grading; Avg. estimate around 7-7.3)
Wharton | Mr. Rates Trader
GMAT 750, GPA 7.6/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Former SEC Athlete
GMAT 620, GPA 3.8
Tuck | Mr. Army To MBB
GMAT 740, GPA 2.97
Columbia | Mr. Forbes 30 Under 30
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB Advanced Analytics
GMAT 750, GPA 3.1
Stanford GSB | Mr. Impactful Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Mr. Banker To CPG Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 7.36/10
Ross | Mr. Leading-Edge Family Business
GMAT 740, GPA 2.89
Darden | Mr. Logistics Guy
GRE Not taken Yet, GPA 3.1
Chicago Booth | Mr. Desi Boy
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Mr. Stylist & Actor
GMAT 760 , GPA 9.5
Columbia | Mr. Ambitious Chemical Salesman
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Tepper | Ms. Coding Tech Leader
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Mr. Irish Biotech Entrepreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Cricketer Turned Engineer
GMAT 770, GPA 7.15/10
Wharton | Mr. Planes And Laws
GRE 328, GPA 3.8
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Refrad
GMAT 700, GPA 3.94
Harvard | Mr. Supply Chain Photographer
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Space Launch
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Ms. Product Strategist
GMAT 700, GPA 7.3/10
Columbia | Mr. MBB Consultant
GRE 339, GPA 8.28
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Avocado Farmer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.08
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. International Development Consultant
Columbia | Mr. Wannabe Grad
GMAT 710, GPA 3.56
Kellogg | Ms. Indian Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.3

By The Numbers: Are Women Really Making Progress At Business School?

Simon Business School at the University of Rochester

Simon Business School at the University of Rochester


Despite these moves forward, there is still plenty of work left. Nearly half of the MBA programs found in the Financial Times’ Top 100 were comprised of fewer than a third women. While that’s down from the 69 schools in this range a decade ago , this list still snags standout programs like Cornell Johnson, IE Business School, HEC Paris, and Indiana Kelley.

From a historical perspective, 32 of the top 50 American MBA programs (as ranked by Poets&Quants), boast higher percentage of women with the incoming 2017 Class than they did with the incoming 2001 Class (or 2007 Class if the school wasn’t ranked previously). Data from another five programs show no changes in the female student population in the Top 50 American programs. Rochester Simon pulled off the best performance, with a 28% increase, going from 16% to 44% over the past 16 years (with the percentage of women doubling between the 2001 and 2007 classes). Booth made the second largest leap – 22% — with nearly two-thirds of its growth coming in the past decade. Washington Olin (+14%), Sloan (+14%) and Wharton (+13%) round out the top five for increasing the presence of women in its student ranks.

Internationally, the best progress was posted by the National University of Singapore, where the percentage of women jumped from 14% to 40% between the 2006 and 2016 rankings (the school didn’t make the Financial Times’ Top 100 ranking in 2000). Two of the United Kingdom’s most prominent MBA programs – the London Business School and Cambridge Judge – each boosted female enrollment by 13%. And Lancaster University followed suit at 11%, making the UK the true standard bearers when it comes to beefing up the number of women on their MBA programs – though some of the influx stems more from high GMAT scoring foreign students than home-grown talent.


However, the picture wasn’t entirely rosy for women. Between the 2006 and 2016 Financial Times rankings, the percentage of women at the University of Washington Foster and George Washington University sunk by 12% and 11% respectively. Georgetown McDonough saw a 4% decrease, foretelling possible issues with the DC market. The same could be said for New York City, where NYU Stern slipped from 39% with the 2001 Class to 35% today. That raises red flags when coupled with its intracity rival Columbia, which started and ended at 36% during that same period.

However, none of these schools saw the bottom fall out of their female enrollment. That honor is reserved for the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. 16 years ago, HKUST was the only school where women accounted for over half of the students. And 10 years ago, it was one of only two schools (George Washington, in a bit of irony, being the other) where women comprised the majority of business students. Fast forward to today and the percentage of women has fallen to 34% at HKUST.

Make no mistake: More men take the GMAT than women. And business school populations often reflect sthat. However, that gap is decreasing. In 2005, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), of the 197,165 people who took the GMAT, just 76,980 were women (39.0%). Ten years later in 2014, the total had climbed to 243,524, with women accounting for 105,476 test-takers (43.3%). In other words, business schools are welcoming a surge of female applicants – and their gender breakdowns are beginning to reflect that.


The percentage of women in faculty positions has also increased over time – just not as dramatically as the number of female students. Most notably, Yale doubled its percentage of women in the School of Management over the past 16 years. Alas, it was a slow and steady hike from 11% to 25%. As noted earlier, Tepper, Mendoza, and Broad pulled off the same feat domestically – but men, far and way, remained the dominant force in the proverbial faculty lounge.

Several second-tier American MBA programs – at times the faculty feeders to top MBA programs – did enjoy some modest growth among female faculty members over the past 16 years. This was highlighted by Pittsburgh Katz (+13% to 30%), Merage (+15% to 46%), Maryland (+10% to 28%), and Iowa Tippie (+10% to 25%). In fact, nearly all American programs witnessed some uptick for female faculty, with the only school reporting any major decrease involved data from the 2011 Financial Times ranking (i.e. the program wasn’t ranked in 2016). Still, the push to increase the number of women teaching in American business schools remains a vexing work-in-progress, particularly at programs below the 20% mark, such as Booth (15%), Fuqua (17%), Vanderbilt Owen (17%), Simon (17%), and Brigham Young Marriott (9%).

Overseas, however, is a different story. As with female students, British institutions are paving the way with female faculty – a cause-and-effect if there ever was one. Start with Alliance Manchester, which has grown its female faculty by 24% in the past 16 years, going from 9% to 33%. London Business School nearly matched Alliance Manchester’s accomplishment, with female faculty there swelling from 10% to 27% during that same period. City University Cass (+19%), Imperial College (+11%), and Warwick (+5%) have also boosted female presence on their faculty rolls. However, these improvements may also be rooted in something else altogether: “Robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Most notably, the percentage of female faculty has nose-dived over the past decade at Cambridge Judge, plummeting from 25% to 15% (though the school did recoup 3% last year so it’s number could’ve been worse). You’ll find a similar dynamic at Cranfield (-7%) and Oxford, an anemic 19% a decade ago that has slumbered its way to 16% today.


Of course, the Isles aren’t the only theater where a boost in female business scholars is playing out. At 35%, ESADE now features two-and-times the number of female faculty that it had 16 years ago. Two fellow Spanish programs, IESE and IE Business School, grew by 13% and 12% respectively, with IE now employing 38% female faculty members – the best among international MBA programs. SDA Bocconi (Up 10% to 37%), the National University of Singapore (up 11% to 32%), and Rotterdam Erasmus (Up 10% to 24%) have also made major strides since the century began. And the Indian Business School has increased the percentage of women teaching MBA courses by 11% (to 26%) in just the past five years alone.

And remember HKUST – the Hong Kong program that held bragging rights worldwide for the highest percentage of female MBA students? Back then, despite the heavy influx of women into the classroom, just 7% of its professors were women.  Today, that number is 21%. In other words, HKUST tripled the number female faculty members at the same time that the number of female students dropped by a third! However, this represents nothing more than an interesting anomaly.

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