Women’s History Month: 8 MBAs From Elite B-Schools On Why Representation Matters

Kristin Lim, MBA ’22
Stanford Graduate School of Business

Area of MBA study: Entrepreneurship

What were you doing before going for an MBA, and what made you want to pursue one? Before business school I worked at Square as a Product Marketing Manager. My sister-in-law had previously attended the GSB and had then gone on to pursue a career in entrepreneurship after graduation. Watching her build a company inspired and empowered me to have the belief that I could follow a similar path in entrepreneurship and influenced my decision to apply to business school.

Why did you choose Stanford? I first had a dream to go to the GSB as a senior in High School and later developed a passion to pursue entrepreneurship. GSB has incredible resources for entrepreneurs that include several courses that help students to develop a start-up idea with teammates as well as the Stanford Venture Studio, a community of entrepreneurs, advisors, VCs, professors and alumni to provide support for entrepreneurs at any stage of their venture.

Why do you believe gender parity in business schools is important? It is critically important that Business schools continue to focus on supporting gender parity across their student body. McKinsey’s study on gender parity found that “women who enjoy parity in education are more likely to share unpaid work with men more equitably, to work in high-productivity professional and technical occupations, and to assume leadership roles”. Higher education has an important role to play in helping to close the apparent gender gap across the workforce in industries that have traditionally been dominated by men. Men also benefit greatly from gender parity in the business school environment as it helps to train them to be more gender-mindful leaders and to seek opportunities where improvements to the status quo can be made.

Why is female representation in boardrooms and C-suites important? Female representation is vital to a boardroom as females offer contrasting perspectives, impact culture and norms, hold valuable skills and experiences, and have access to a different set of resources and talent. This diversity helps organizations to develop new ideas and to examine unforeseen risks that would not have been surfaced otherwise. Female leaders might also have a unique perspective on customer needs and can therefore be an important representative and voice for a company’s customers.

What can be done to attract more women to sectors and industries traditionally dominated by men? It starts from the very beginning – young women need to be exposed and introduced to these “traditionally male-dominated” sectors early on in their careers and require equal access to education. Women also need inspiration and mentorship from older female generations who are looking to pave a path for future generations. This is a similar model to ChickTech, which works with women at an early age to encourage a career in STEM.

Have you been involved in any organizations or projects working to increase women participation in business or to uplift women in general?  Pre-GSB, I volunteered for two organizations, Ladies Who Launch and ChickTech. At the GSB I volunteer for Stanford Women on Boards and GSB Women in Management.

Ladies Who Launch (“LWL”) is a non-profit organization that empowers, mentors and builds community among female small business owners and operators. Ladies Who Launch is a global program that has had incredible traction throughout its events, fundraising efforts and mentorship program. As a result, LWL has formed new communities for female business owners within cities it has touched including Denver, NY, Toronto, Sydney, St. Louis, Stockholm, Belfast and London.

ChickTech is a non-profit organization aimed to increase the number of women in STEM by providing community, education and inspiration to young adults and non-binary individuals who would not otherwise have considered a career in high tech. ChickTech hosts monthly workshops, 1:1 mentoring, and large-scale networking events. So far, ChickTech has raised about $500,000, serves 34 states, and has impacted 1,154 women and non-binary individuals.

I currently volunteer for Stanford Women on Boards (“SWB”), an organization committed to increasing the representation of Stanford alumnae on corporate and fiduciary boards, preparing Stanford women for boards and developing Stanford women already sitting on boards. The issue is apparent – in 2021, 356 California public company boards needed more women directors and 49% of private company boards had no women directors. SWB has helped to tackle this problem and has successfully placed dozens of women on board seats and works on over 100 board member searches a year.

I’m also the Co-President of GSB’s Women in Management Club (“WIM”), a community of strong, authentic women and men who inspire each other to develop professionally and personally. Our goal is to support each other, prepare members for long-term professional success, and foster a more equitable business world. We host a variety of events around community, professional development and intersectionality & inclusivity.

What are your future career goals? I am an aspiring entrepreneur. Like my sister-in-law, I want to build a company that will help make a positive impact on the world post-GSB.

What don’t your classmates know about you? I wear a robe almost 75% of the day. I have multiple robes for different occasions but my favorite robe is my SOHO house robe – it’s a plush, long, cozy robe that my roommates tease me about wearing around the house.

Next page: Nikki Liao, Yale School of Management

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