It’s not yet a woman’s world, but it’s getting there. GMAC reports that while women’s degree attainment has long exceeded that of men, the gap is widening, with women’s overall enrollment growing despite the obstacles — attitudes, beliefs, and professional and educational hurdles — that persist in many parts of the world. “Slow progress is being made,” write Hazenbush and Schoenfeld: While only 6.6% of current Fortune 500 CEOs are women, that is up from just 0.4% two decades ago. Women hold 22.5% of board seats at Fortune 500 companies, up from 16.6% in 2010.
It’s not a pipeline issue. Women have been closing the gap in GMAT testing for years; over the last decade, the share of global GMAT exams taken by women has climbed from 40.1% to 47.1%. Women’s applications have reached or are close to parity in multiple business master’s program types, while continuing to lag behind men in full-time and professional MBA programs, where women account for 39% and 41% of apps, respectively. (See chart below.) “Compared with their male counterparts, women’s journey to business school can be characterized as being more pragmatic,” GMAC reports. “Female candidates tend to consider GME earlier in their educational and career journeys than men (and) are more likely than men to say that what triggered their pursuit of GME was a skill or credential deficiency, either for a job they want to pursue or for their current job. Across a range of potential barriers to the pursuit of GME, female candidates are more likely than male candidates to say that specific barriers may derail their journey to business school, including factors like admissions requirements, future debt burden, and confidence in their ability to be successful in the program.” Their pragmatism is also reflected in their choice of program: Women are far more likely (45.1%) than men (28.6%) to send their GMAT scores to business master’s programs; see table below.
Post-graduation, women’s career goals are not so different than men’s, “though they tend to set different goals and have different priorities.” Women’s top goal (41%) is to make more money; next in line is freedom to travel, followed by management goals (see table below). Women business school candidates are less likely than male candidates to aim for the C-suite, however.
“Female graduates report high levels of satisfaction with their experience and outcomes,” GMAC reports. “The vast majority of female graduates responding to GMAC’s 2019 mba.com Longitudinal Survey rate the overall value of their GME as good to outstanding and say that their GME made their professional situation better.”