The Benefits of the Executive MBA for Women

The benefits of the Executive MBA for women require a better understanding of what needs to be considered before applying.

The Benefits of the Executive MBA for Women

Prospects are brighter than ever for corporate women. The number of women in business schools is rising, the wage gap is closing in an increasing number of industries, and now there is an all-American effort to encourage boards to include female business degree holders. These developments will hopefully rub off on the rest of the world. The benefits of the Executive MBA for women require a better understanding of what needs to be considered before applying.

According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council, between 2006 and 2015 the number of women who took the GMAT test increased by 38%. In 2015 alone, 60% of the women who took the GMAC applied for an MBA and sent 135,389 score reports to MBA programmes. The programmes with the largest share of female applicants are Master of Accounting (57%), Master of Management (55%), and Master of Finance (47%).

The advantages of the executive form of the MBA programme for women are obvious: no need to interrupt work and be absent from family for long periods of time, while still working in an intense business environment with fellow executives. It provides a more flexible attitude on behalf of faculty, co-students and administrators who aim to accommodate as many of the working mother’s needs as possible.

The executive MBA provides a more mildly academic environment more suited to the pace and environment of busy executives. Moreover, in today’s times of economic peril, remaining on the payroll while studying for a high-value business degree which will most surely boost your income even further, is more than preferable for both students and financing institutions which would gladly have your salary as loan security. Women in particular find this to be one of the Executive MBA programme’s major assets, together with not having to be absent from family.

Although joining an MBA or an EMBA programme is becoming an increasingly natural step for corporate women, there are still aspects of this endeavour which need to be considered in depth before choosing to join what can be a very intense and rigorous race. Here is a list of some major points to bear in mind before deciding to apply:

Family

No matter how evolved and advanced the corporate world may have become, this will always be issue number one with women in business. A greater number of women choose to proceed with an MBA degree after achieving some level of corporate success. So they might be well into their thirties or even forties and have families and children. Albeit more relaxed schedule-wise, EMBA programmes can be quite rigorous too and require great dedication and long hours of studying. Still, they make an excellent choice for working mothers with weekend-based schedules and much more flexible administrative conditions, including online and distance classes.

Pay

Although obtaining an EMBA degree will most commonly place you on the fast track to higher pay (no less than 60% salary increase as per Financial Times’ MBA rankings), studies show that even with b-school degrees, men’s salaries continue to eclipse women’s in almost all industries. This is often due to the type of industries where women and men with MBA degrees are employed. While the majority of men with business degrees would head for or continue growing in the financial sector, women tend to be attracted to consulting firms, consumer products, information technology and venture capital. Research, however, shows that fewer and fewer applicants aim to study for a b-degree with better pay in mind. Reaching new horizons in business and expanding one’s opportunities seem to be the key motivators for both men and women.

Career growth potential

Unlike single men and women in their 20s who are still on the verge of corporate success, it is assumed that EMBA students already enjoy much of that. So unless your employer is strongly encouraging you to obtain a business degree to boost your further growth within the company and is paying for it, it is important to consider how you can actually grow further in your company as a working mother, and if you could use a hard-earned diploma to reach new heights in new fields. After all, it is still your time, your children and your future which have to be the end beneficiaries of your efforts. Even in the A-class of business knowledge, feeling happy is key. So embarking on an EMBA programme with a clear view of the future will provide rich rewards. An increasing number of women have been putting their business degrees to use in fields such as public relations, education and advertising, industries generally considered to be for the creative types. A business degree is also becoming increasingly sought-after by top international law firms advising corporate clients, so the sky is the limit for the more courageous among you.

Read: Women in B-School: A Blueprint for Change

Networking

While both the MBA and EMBA programmes entail intense studying, the latter requires a less academic and a more business-like environment where your fellow students are also fellow executives. Mingling and being socially active in your class makes up a great part of the EMBA’s value. Thus, women enrolling in EMBA programmes should consider the social aspect of their business education. They need to dedicate part of their precious time to networking in addition to family, work, and extended family obligations, health and well-being. The EMBA should not be a first choice for those who tend to avoid the company of other people.

Scholarships

Considered how powerful women have become over the past two decades and despite loud cries for gender equality worldwide, amazingly there are still plenty of opportunities in the Western world for women to receive education scholarships for just being… women. EMBA and MBA programmes are no exception, especially in the US where a number of organisations working to empower women in business have devoted significant effort and resources to secure funding for promising and ambitious women in business schools. Some of those include the C200 Foundation, the Business Professional Women Foundation, the American Business Women’s Association, and many more.

Whatever women’s attitude to the five issues mentioned above might be they will surely benefit greatly from enrolling in an executive MBA programme. All five women interviewed for this article said that they had the most positive experience as EMBA students regardless of whether they chose to stick with their old employers or go down another path. Their executive MBA programmes gave them the opportunity to expand their business choices immensely. Interestingly, some of the women said that going through business school during the past couple of years helped them maintain healthy enthusiasm for business in general in today’s difficult times. The EMBA could be useful in many wonderful ways. 

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