Why B-Schools Struggle to Enroll More Women

Today, women are almost as likely as men to fill the seats of medical school and law school classrooms. Yet the share of women enrolled in MBA programs hasn’t risen above 37.2 percent in the past decade, according to the more than 100 schools providing full-time MBA enrollment figures in surveys by AACSB International, an accrediting organization. “There’s a frustration on the part of a lot of women, and probably men, too, that we haven’t made more progress,” says Amy Hillman, the dean at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

In August the White House convened 150 leaders from top business schools and had them sign a pledge to take steps to boost female enrollment by cultivating potential applicants early on in their education and by offering more financial aid. “When business schools are missing out on a large share of female college graduates, they are missing out on an extremely large share of the top qualified college graduates,” says Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan economist who served on President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and helped lead the August summit. “If they want to continue to be a relevant part of the training in the 21st century, they are going to have to make changes that will make them more attractive to women.”

Deans say business schools suffer from a unique timing problem. Unlike law and medical schools, which tend to enroll students soon after they finish college, the full-time MBA program is designed for people who’ve already proved themselves professionally. Elite B-schools typically prefer that applicants have about five years of work experience, which means the average MBA student is 30 years old at graduation, Bloomberg data show. Women in their late 20s who think they’ll want to have children at some point may feel they’d do better racking up career experience than taking two years off for business school. “You’ve got some prime childbearing years and prime career trajectory years, and I think we are seeing women who are not willing to come out of [the workforce],” says Arizona State’s Hillman....”


Read full story: Bloomberg

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