Women Have Just as Much Reason to Take an MBA as Men
Womenare still not represented sufficiently at the highest level of business across the world.It is, therefore, only right that there should be a focus on how an internationally-valued and professional qualification, such as an MBA program, can improve a woman’s career.
However, the reality is that the benefits are the same, whether you are male or female. The in-class learning from professors and fellow members of your cohort, the networking possibilities, the hands on learning projects and other team-based activities, the internship opportunities – all these things benefit female students as much as their male counterparts. In the second decade of the 21st century, it would be nice if we could get to the point where we no longer have to segregate along lines of gender (and ethnicity for that matter).
Having said that, many of the world’s leading business schools have struggled to reach equal proportions of suitably-qualified men and women in their MBA programs.However, in the US this year, a number of schools – such as Kellogg School of Management, Wharton and Dartmouth Tuck – celebrated enrolling MBA classes that were 40% female or more, with the country’s average having hovered at around a third in recent years.
Part of this progress has come from breaking down people’s perceptions of what it’s like for women to study an MBA at a top business school and where people go on to work when they graduate.
Ensuring a supportive atmosphere for female students
The point to emphasize, then, is one of stereotypes. Stereotypes associated, firstly, with the culture and atmosphere that comes with life on the campus of a leading business school and MBA program. The central question here is whether or not business schools can provide a supportive atmosphere for women. In this, female MBA students tell us, on TopMBA.com, that they can, with ongoing initiatives – such as one at MIT Sloan that seeks to address gender bias that people (both male and female) hold on an unconscious level- demonstrating that schools are willing to keep working on improving the campus experience for women. As a further example,criticism that the case studies often used as key MBA teaching materials were dominated by male characters has now led the instigator of the case study method, Harvard Business School to commit to righting this lack of female representation.
Part of this last point is about ensuring that women in business school have female points of reference in their learning environment and, more generally, role models to whom they can aspire. Another means of support linked to the idea of role models ismentoring, whereby female MBA students receiveguidance from women who are a little further down the line in their management careers. At Australia’sMacquarie Graduate School of Management, for example, such a mentoring scheme is a compulsory part of a scholarship initiative designed to increase the number of their female MBA students.
Of course, even if they remain a significant minority at the highest levels of management (less than 5% of Fortune of 500 CEOs are women), there are already a number of influential female MBAs out there: Hewlett-Packard’s CEO, Meg Whitman, is a Harvard MBA; Mary Barra is a Stanford MBA and CEO at General Motors; and PepsioCo’s CEO, IndraNooyi, took her PGDM (India’s MBA equivalent) at IIM Calcutta before earning a further management degree at Yale.
If you’re considering pursuing an MBA, join the QS World MBA Tour in the Middle East this spring. Find the nearest event for you, register online to secure your place at www.TopMBA.com/MEB
Gateway to career progression in any industry
The second stereotype to contendrelates to the type of job opportunities an MBA program and business school network specializes in providing. There was a time when the degree was primarily associated with those seeking to work in the consulting and finance industries – areas that were, in turn, not traditionally thought to appeal to female professionals. Today business schools retain strong links to these industries and thus, are the perfect place for female professionals to destroy this outdated way of thinking.
However, the MBA graduates of today go on to work in just about any industry imaginable. A quick glance at the latest QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report shows that the technology, education, hospitality and pharmaceutical industries all feature among the biggest recruiters of MBAs across the world.
The increasing popularity of entrepreneurship
MBAs also increasingly use the degree’s training and the school’s dedicated resources for aspiring entrepreneurs to add substance and credence to ambitions of starting, and successfully running, a new business. While it is often more common for MBA alumni to completely go it alone with their own company a few years after graduating, many do so immediately. For example, INSEAD’s employment report says that 6% of 2014’s graduating MBA classes in both France and Singapore started their own companies on graduation andnoted that a sizeable number of others joined existing startups or SMEs as a ‘stepping stone’ to their own future enterprises.
If you’re considering pursuing an MBA, join the QS World MBA Tour in the Middle Eastthis spring. Find the nearest event for you, register online to secure your place at www.TopMBA.com/MEB
Written by Tim Dhoul
Notes to the Editor
About Tim Dhoul
‘Tim strives to bring the world of business education to an audience without borders in his coverage of news, research and trends for TopMBA.com. He has a background in consumer journalism and the nonprofit sector, and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).’
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