MBA Programs Edging Closer To Gender Parity

MBA students in a Stanford classroom

‘IN THE MID-SECTION AND LOWER-SECTION OF SCHOOLS YOU ARE STILL SEEING MORE VOLATILITY’

“This is definitely a game and when the top schools reach into their waitlists and try to push their numbers higher that will affect the other schools,” says Sangster. “They have to have a lot of scholarship money to support change. Showing that there are schools committed to moving closer to gender parity is important. It’s also a critical part of getting the attention of a dean who will then put more resources behind it. But in the mid-section and lower-section of schools you are still seeing some volatility.”

Forté Foundation was launched in 2001 and grew to 25 member schools in 2005 in the U.S. Today Forté includes 51 member schools: 39 in the U.S., four in Canada and eight in Europe. Five years ago, there were about 4,000 women in its member schools. This fall, that number–counting only the member schools in the organization from 2012–has risen to 4,500.

While Forté schools based in the U.S. have a higher percentage of women enrolled on average, schools based outside the U.S. are gaining ground faster. Forté’s U.S. schools had close to 38% (37.8%) women enrolled, on average, in the fall of 2017, up less than 1% from 37.1% in the fall of 2016, and 34% in 2013. Those based outside the US had 36% women enrolled in the fall of 2017, an increase of almost 3.5% in just one year from 32.8% in 2016, and 31.1% in 2013.

MAJOR BOOST IN SCHOLARSHIP AID TO WOMEN WHO ARE NAMED FORTE FELLOWS

Scholarships awarded to Forté Fellows have played a key role in increasing the number of women MBAs, climbing from 33 scholarships in 2003 to more than 1,300 scholarships for the incoming class of 2017 and another 1,100 scholarships for second year students. Since 2003, Forté Foundation sponsor schools have awarded over $142 million in scholarships to Forté Fellows.

“Our schools have been working on this for some time,” says Sangster. “It’s not something new or unique that has happened this past year. But it is something of a tipping point after many years of effort in building the pipeline and helping the women who are considering buisness school polish their applications and stories.” She especially pointed to the organization’s MBA Launch initiative, a hands-on 10-month program that provides guidance, resources and ongoing feedback on the business school application process, including monthly webinars, peer group meetings and feedback from experienced advisors.

“Our MBA Launch program will be in its fourth year this January, with 600 people going through this year. That program helps applicants present their best selves in the admissions process, and it has also given the schools the chance to have specific conversations with women earlier in the pipeline. We have a number of schools that have been very engaged in coaching sessions we offer and that has been reflective in the numbers showing up at their business schools.”

A LARGE ARRAY OF INITIATIVES TO HELP BUILD THE FEMALE PIPELINE

In recent years, Forté also has introduced new initiatives to help build the female MBA and business leadership pipelines and enhance diversity and inclusiveness of women in business: Forté launched the Men As Allies Initiative in late 2016 to help male students benefit from, and get involved in, enhancing gender equity on business school campuses and to take that experience back to the business world.

Its “Rising Star” pilot initiative, launched on 10 U.S. undergraduate campuses in September 2015 has expanded to now include 28 schools, and is designed to help undergraduate women become well-informed about their many career options, including in business, and to compete for top jobs. The Forté College Fast Track to Finance Conference was launched in 2015, benefitting women specifically interested in exploring financial careers.

These new programs are on top of the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference, attended by hundreds of women MBAs and top companies annually, and the Forté College to Business Leadership Conference, designed for undergraduate freshmen and sophomore women to introduce them to career opportunities and top companies that offer summer internships and entry-level opportunities for college graduates.

CURRENT MEMBERSHIP INCLUDES HARVARD AND COLUMBIA

The following 17 Forté member business schools have 40% or higher women’s enrollment (12 in the US, 3 in Europe, 2 in Canada):

Alliance Manchester Business School – UK

Columbia Business School – US

Dartmouth College (Tuck School of Business) – US

George Washington University School of Business – US

Harvard Business School – US

Imperial College Business School – UK

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Management) – US

Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management) – US

University of California Berkeley (Haas School of Business) – US

The University of Chicago (Booth School of Business) – US

University of Michigan (Ross School of Business) – US

University of Oxford (Saïd Business School) – UK

University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)– US

The University of Texas at Austin (McCombs School of Business) – US

University of Toronto (Rotman School of Management) – Canada

Yale School of Management – US

York University (Schulich School of Business) – Canada

These nine schools have 35% or greater women’s enrollment (six in the U.S., three in Europe):

Arizona State University (W. P. Carey School of Business) – US

HEC-Paris – France

London Business School – UK

New York University (Stern School of Business) – US

University of California – Los Angeles (Anderson School of Management) – US

University of Cambridge (Judge Business School) – UK

University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign (Gies College of Business) – US

University of Virginia (Darden School of Business) – US

Washington University in St. Louis (Olin Business School) – US

DON’T MISS: A PEEK AT HOW HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL IS BUILDING THE PIPELINE FOR YOUNG WOMEN

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