EDUCATION: The vast majority of MBA students are men. Business schools want to change that and are actively recruiting women.
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), only 38 per cent of applicants to fulltime MBA programmes worldwide are female. One important reason is that women do not want to interrupt their business careers and spend two years without earnings, says GMAC president Sangeet Chowfla. “They are less willing after four or five years of experience to give up their jobs and do a full-time MBA programme,” Chowfla told the Financial Times.
“We know that in most cases, women earn less than men,” says Alice Leri, associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. “It’s going to take them longer to make up for the money they have spent on their education.”
One of the business schools actively approaching female students is Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa. The school’s dean, Sarah Fisher Gardial, recently telephoned a prospective woman student, 24-year-old Meron Meyers, who is a mortgage officer at the Bank of America in Washington, D.C. “It was definitely a surprise,” Meyers said. “You don’t expect a call from the dean.”
"You don't expect a call from the dean." Meron Meyers
Meyers had been accepted by Tippie College, but in the meantime had also received an offer from another MBA programme. Fisher Gardial wanted to persuade her to accept Tippie’s offer. “They were really personal phone calls. I absolutely put the female thing right out there,” the dean said.
Achieving gender equality will take time, other business school deans say. “It’s not unreasonable to think that an MBA education could be 50–50 [male–female], but I would say not in the next 10 years,” comments Urs Peyer, dean of degree programmes at the European business school Insead. “It will be a while before there’s such a high percentage of females interested.”