5. Women Thriving Overseas (More Than The U.S.)
American business schools are often seen as setting the bar for the rest of the MBA universe. In many ways, such as pay, career services, and research, that is still true. However, there is one area where international programs often eclipse their American contemporaries: the representation of women in key roles.
Take faculty. On one hand, two American MBA programs – UC-Irvine Merage at 48% and Babson Olin at 37% rank in the Top 10 for the percentage of female faculty members. In fact, Merage maintains the highest percentage in the world, according to the Financial Times. That said, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Australia also placed two MBA programs in the Top 10, including the University of Edinburgh, IE Business School, and the University of New South Wales – where the percentages hit 40% or above.
Overall, American schools placed 7 schools among the 20-best for the concentration of female faculty, with its nearest competitor being France (3). That said, none of these American programs ranked higher than 48th (Merage) in the FT ranking. In other words, talented female faculty are getting their shot to teach graduate business courses – just not at the top schools as often.
Among American MBA royalty, Harvard Business School performs the best in this measure at 28%. Otherwise, most top American programs are stuck in the mid-to-low 20s, including Yale SOM (26%), Wharton (25%), Northwestern (24%), Stanford and MIT (23% each), and Berkeley Haas (20%). And the numbers are even lower at Chicago Booth (18%) and Columbia Business School (16%). That said, these numbers are hardly a Yankee phenomenon. Look no further than the percentages at IESE (29%), London Business School (26%), and INSEAD and HEC Paris (19%).
The same is true among female board membership. Just one top MBA program – the London Business School – features a board where half of the members are women (though Harvard Business School comes close at 48%). Washington University’s Olin School performed the best worldwide in this measure with a 69% female board composition. Another eight schools either beat or met the halfway mark in B-school board membership: Olin, Sungkyunkwan University, Grenoble Ecole de Management, IE Business School, LBS, SDA Bocconi, St. Gallen, and the University of New South Wales.
No doubt, business schools are far more advanced with female board members than female faculty. 20 MBA programs ranked by the Financial Times maintain a board with 40% or more female members. For faculty, that school number is 5 at the 40% threshold. Still, these numbers remain frustratingly low at top American institutions, such as Stanford (23%), Wharton (17%), and Columbia and Chicago Booth (Both 15%).
There are plenty of reasons for hope, however. For one, 34 MBA programs featured classes last year where 40% or more of the class were women. Half of these were American programs. In this category, Fudan University was the leader, where nearly two-thirds of MBA candidates (65%) were women. That said, the best results were concentrated in the United States, China, and the United Kingdom, whose schools accounted for 9 of the 10-highest percentages of female students. Even more, none of these schools ranked higher than 14th (Northwestern) or 15th (Dartmouth).
That isn’t to say the numbers haven’t been trending upwards. In 2018, USC Marshall became the first major American MBA program to crack the 50% mark. At the same time, eight leading American programs were clustered between 42% and 43% mark last year. And Stanford and Harvard both hit 41% to boot. Overall, 8 of the 10 highest-ranked programs – according to the Financial Times – featured classes with 40% or more women (and #9 Columbia reported a 39% rate). While there is work to be done (INSEAD hovering around 33% being a prime example), the growth is there among female students – one that will hopefully filter into the faculty and board ranks over time.
6. Europe Remains the International Hub
Looking to immerse yourself in a truly global experience – one where you can absorb a rich array of languages, cultural mores, and business practices? Well, Europe is the place to be…no different than years past.
How diverse are European classrooms? At INSEAD, 96% of students hail from outside France – 94 different countries to be exact. At the University of Oxford, that percentage is 93%, nearly the same proportion as HEC Paris (92%) and the London Business School (91%). In fact, this diversity ranks among the defining features for many of these European programs. The numbers only bolster their claims. International students make up 90% of more of the class in 17 European MBA programs. In contrast, the mark is only reached in two Australian programs (Macquarie at 100% and Melbourne at 90%) and the Singapore Management University (90%).
The United Kingdom is unquestionable the leading destination for building a truly international network. Among these 17 European programs that topped the 90% threshold, 8 are based in the United Kingdom. France (3), Switzerland (2), and Spain (2) don’t even reach this mark combined. Overall, among the 33 ranked MBA programs where 75% or more of the class hail from overseas, 25 are European – and just one is American (Babson Olin at 84%).
The most underrated international business school destination? No doubt, it is Singapore, which boasts three Top 50 schools with international populations of 88% or above.
Of course, diversity isn’t just fostered among classmates. In the Financial Times ranking, there are 34 MBA programs where 50% of the faculty came from countries outside the host nation. Sure enough, 19 of these schools are based in Europe, including the five best: IMD (98%), Imperial (95%), INSEAD (93%), Warwick (82%), and the London Business School (80%). In addition, there were three schools that beat this 50% international faculty mark in Canada and Singapore, not to mention two each from China and the United States (Columbia and Berkeley Haas).
Not every business school has embraced the concept of a diverse faculty. India, for example, features the most insular faculty rolls. Among the nation’s four schools ranked by Financial Times, just one employed a faculty where more than 10% of the faculty were born outside India (and two where native Indians each represented 99% of the faculty).
Along with international students and faculty, European business programs also excelled in placing international players on their school boards. However, this gap closed considerably between Europe and the rest of the world. Among the 31 schools where internationals held 50% or more board seats, 17 were European. Of course, European schools represented 9 of the 10 highest percentages of international board memberships, led by IESE (93%), EMLyon (92%), IE Business School (92%), HEC Paris (90%), and INSEAD (86%).
Such representation provides a buffer to ensure these programs remain globally-focused in nature – with internationals receiving a strong voice in how the school is operated as well. As always, the UK and France led the charge, each boasting five schools where 50% or more board seats were held by internationals. The same is true of the United States, led by Duke Fuqua (56%), MIT Sloan (52%), and the Wharton School (50%).