The Ding Report: Who Was Rejected & Why

Ms. Indian Engineer

  • 740 (Q48/V42) GMAT
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in engineering from a university in Singapore
  • Work experience includes four years in engineering and manufacturing for a Fortune 500 U.S. semiconductor company; one of four years spent working in new product development at U.S. headquarters, with one promotion but not title change
  • Recommendations from a manager in Singapore and a manager in the U.S. (“Expect very good things, although they’d never written B-school recs before)
  • Extracurricular involvement as the co-founder of a project within a local energy non-profit to raise awareness about renewable energy-related careers; volunteer for well-known global nonprofit for three years
  • Short-term goal: To transition to product management in tech
  • Long-term goal: To lead innovation or new product development in Cleantech
  • 26-year-old Indian female


Dinged with not interview by HBS, GSB, MIT & UC-Berkeley

Waitlisted after interview by Yale SOM

Admitted to Cornell, with some scholarship support

Sandy’s Analysis: So this is Indian IT/engineering with the wrinkle that you are female. If this was male Indian IT/engineering, the outcomes would be explained by the fact that HBS, Stanford, MIT and Berkeley just filled their Desi IT/engineering bucket with dudes from better known companies (brand names) and maybe better grades at elite schools, viz IIT.

You are a test case for how much difference being female makes in this bucket, and the answer seems to be, against my guess, not much. I think that working for a B-to-B (business to business) company vs. a B-to-C (business to consumer) semiconductor company was the big factor here (in addition to mad crowding of the bucket you’re in), although so-so grades might have made the decision a bit easier.

I think you have already had a wonderful career, with lots of accomplishments and extras, but alas, it supports the theory that especially in tech, and especially in chips, the BRAND NAME of company really matters.

The Yale WL says it all. HBS, Stanford, MIT and Berkeley combined take X number of people in semiconductors, and that is NOT a super high number, sorta like 100 to 130 total, out of all the semiconductor/techy engineers applicants in the big, big world. Well, depending on how you define techy engineers, but you get the point.

Your number was that +1. I think one lesson here is that the female software engineering halo is not that powerful. I think female engineers in old economy manufacturing still get a real plus.

Hope you make it at Yale, but your dreams can come true at Cornell. Going there is a license to hustle, but that is true at many schools. And given your rare-ish and real skills, you should be able to stand out and make your own breaks.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.