Women studying MBAs: Numbers rising, but still a long way to go
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Melbourne Business School has just cracked the 40% female MBA enrolment mark, joining the ranks of just a handful of the world's top 50 MBA programs to do so.
The new class at M.B.S, which commenced last month, comes at a time when women still only account for 30% of enrolments at the world's leading business schools.
M.B.S Dean Professor Zeger Degraeve credits a remodeled 12-month program for the rise in female participation at M.B.S.
"Business cycles are getting shorter, and the opportunity cost of a 12-month program is much more palatable than the two-year programs that still prevail in the US and elsewhere," he said in a media release.
"For those already employed but seeking career advancement, it's easier to obtain employer support for a year's leave of absence."
The implications of not addressing gender-specific challenges for women in the workplace are also hindering female enrolments. and costing women the opportunity to develop and prepare for leadership roles.
"Many women do MBAs in their late 20s and early 30s, an age that is crucial for career advancement," says the Director of the full-time MBA program, Dr Pete Manasantivongs.
"As has been widely observed, the typical MBA track tends to put women on a collision course with plans to start a family. That can all add up to a lot of time out of the workforce.
An increasing number of schools are accepting that they are part of the setback and have adapted their programs to make them more appealing to women.
Wharton, which sits amongst amongst the top three business schools for gender diversity (the other two include the University of Hong Kong, at 42% female enrolment and Cass at the top with 45%) used a tactical campaign to encourage women into the classroom, partnering with female organisations and holding women's only events. The efforts paid off, with 44% of their enrolments now female.
And there is proof that getting women into the classroom pays off for the male students as well.
According to Associate Dean of the full-time MBA Program at M.B.S, Professor Jill Klein, "I have taught at a number of top business schools that had 20-25 per cent female participants.
"The classroom culture shifts substantially with greater gender diversity. The stronger representation of women that we have at MBS allows for a learning environment in which everyone has a voice and is treated with equality."
Have you completed an MBA? How did you manage the workload?