Women in B-School: A Blueprint for Change

With gender equality in many different segments of industry and education as a topic of global interest, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) commissioned and recently released a report entitled “What Women Want: A Blueprint for Change in Business Education,” which assessed the position of women in B-schools and post-graduate degree programmes.

The white paper is filled with statistics and gives insight into the differences in attitudes and motivations between men and women pursuing post-graduate degrees in business, and it reveals a large disparity between the number of women in MBA programmes versus other business-focused Masters programmes.

Fewer women in MBA degree programmes

The major revelation in the report was that, globally, women are pursuing graduate management education (GME) either at the same rate as men or even greater, with women earning an average of 51% of non-MBA degrees but only 38% of MBA degrees. In addition, the report reveals that the statistic has remained nearly constant for the last five years, indicating little to no progress on that front.

Motivation for study on women in B-school

The impetus for the report, according to GMAC, was to “provide market intelligence that schools can use to create a new value proposition for women and make progress toward gender parity in the business school classroom.

GMAC is not the only organisation interested in this topic by any stretch. In September 2016, the UN released the HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 University Parity Report, in which 10 of the largest universities in the world proclaimed a commitment to “achieving gender parity.” That same year, the World Economic Forum released the 2016 Global Gender Gap Index, which revealed that, to date, no country has closed more than 90% of the gender gap. The authors of “What Women Want” believe that B-schools can be a driving change towards closing that gap, and they end with several recommendations for B-school administrators to improve marketing and programming to appeal to the needs and wants of women.

Check out: Rethinking the Role of Women and the MBA

Revelations about women in B-schools

Based on information gleaned from multiple surveys, “What Women Want” makes the following statements regarding women in B-schools:

  • Women value an MBA for career advancement opportunities and are more likely to highly regard the degree.
  • Women ranked higher for curiosity, or their constant desire to learn new things, and were less intimidated by standardised tests than men.
  • Women were much more likely to commit to an online, part-time, or flexible programme versus an executive or accelerated programme.
  • Financial concerns are the primary reason why female applicants for business programmes had not accepted their offer for graduate school.

Based on these and other insights, “What Women Want” concludes with a list of recommendations for B-schools to improve their business programmes, specifically MBA programmes. These included emphasising the power of a business degree to develop skills that will lead to career advancement and greater earnings potential, promoting tuition assistance and providing financial aid and scholarships to segments of the markets that have the greatest need.

“What Women Want” was designed to offer marketable insight to B-schools and universities to better promote their Masters degree programmes in business, specifically MBA programmes, to women in order to close the gender gap that exists in the classroom and elsewhere. GMAC recognises the unique position of advanced education institutions to train and equip future business leaders, and hopes its report will advance progress on the issue.



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