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B-schools Are Closer to Gender Parity: More Than 41% Women Enrollment

MBA programs are nearing gender parity, with 14 top B-schools in the U.S. having more than 41% women enrollment.

A new report by Forté Foundation found that among the schools reporting numbers, those with the highest percentage of women MBA students include George Washington University (59%), Johns Hopkins University (52%), and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (50%). In 2022, women accounted for more than 41% of enrollment in full-time MBA programs at the 56 top U.S. B-schools—a significant increase from the 27% nearly two decades ago.

“Maybe the number’s not quite 50-50, but when you’re down at 25% or 30%, you can feel it,” Elissa Sangster, CEO of the Forté Foundation, tells Fortune. “Women are no longer feeling like ‘an only’ when they go into an MBA classroom, and that’s a huge accomplishment.”

THE ROAD TO GENDER PARITY

Over time, women have slowly gained more representation in industry leadership positions leading business schools to recruit more female students in each class.

“What you’re seeing happen in business school is now reflective of all the different types of career paths, all the different types of people who pursue an MBA,” Sangster says. “They’re just doing a much better job of showcasing how an MBA can have an impact in your life and what career opportunities are there for you.”

Some schools are even offering admissions programming specifically targeted to women, where women applicants can connect with women MBA students to learn more about their business school experience. Additionally, schools have placed more emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives that begin with the admissions process.

“Applications are asking questions about DEI coming up in interviews consistently,” Shaifali Aggarwal, an Harvard Business School graduate and CEO of boutique MBA admissions consulting firm Ivy Groupe, says. “Schools are very, very conscious of this aspect, and I think they know that women can be very strong leaders in business and it really is about attracting that pipeline as much as they can.”

While business schools have made significant improvements towards gender parity, more can still be done. Experts say it’s not enough to simply enroll female MBA students—business schools need to ensure that women are fully represented, no matter what path they choose to take.

“When you look at applied finance classes, there’s only a sprinkle of women in the program versus marketing,” Ashleigh Rogers, another MBA student at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, says. “It’s about making sure people are supported if they want to pursue financial roles that typically are extremely male-dominated.”

Sources: FortuneForté Foundation

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