AND WHAT ABOUT EUROPE?
European schools lag far behind their U.S. counterparts when it comes to women enrolling in MBA programs. Among the elite schools, only London Business School enrolled 40% or more women — in LBS’ case, exactly 40% in the Class of 2020. Cambridge Judge (36%), Oxford Said (39%), IESE (32%) and IE (31%) of Spain, and INSEAD (33%) and HEC Paris (32%) of France all came up short.
“(The European schools) had such a great increase last year, and we are seeing some really positive trends there,” Sangster says. “They may have stepped back a little bit this year. I can’t say that we’re disappointed — at least they aren’t showing wide volatility. But the negative variables are still in play: There are not enough women in the pipeline to fill all of those seats. So we still want to see growth in the number of women taking the test, the number of women applying to business school. But despite what is going on with the rhetoric in the media and globally what’s been happening, even despite that we’re still seeing improvement, so we’re pleased with that.”
At HEC Paris, Andrea Masini, associate dean in charge of the MBA program, points out that dozens of nationalities are represented in the school’s classrooms, but acknowledges that HEC struggles to attract women. Last year the school enrolled 34% women; this fall that number dropped to 32%. Masini says his school’s difficulty in appealing to women mirror those of European schools — for a few reasons.
“One reason is that from a job market point of view, looking historically, companies’ management paths were perceived to be something more for men than for women,” Masini told P&Q in an interview on the school’s campus outside Paris last October. “And of course we’re trying to break that perception as much as we can, because we do need great women leaders because they bring a slightly different perspective, much more nuanced. They’re great leaders and of course having a class with 50/50 balance would be my dream. And we’re working hard, and I’m not saying that it’s impossible. We’ll get there at some point. It certainly is a priority to increase that percentage, but I think the business world could also help us.
“If I had more female applications I would have more women in the program. So we’re trying to do whatever we can to promote the MBA or management education at the earliest stages.”