More Women Than Ever Are Going to Business School

MBA Admissions
According to a new article by Rebecca Knight in the Financial Times (free registration required), the typical MBA classroom now has more women in it than ever before. The article cites a study by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which shows that women now make up about 37% of the student body at traditional full-time business schools in the U.S., up from 33% just five years ago (and up from 30% ten years ago).

This steady progress in closing the gender gap is the result of constant effort on the part of top business schools. In the last decade, schools have started to aggressively recruit students before they even graduate college, host more women-oriented events on campus to help prospective applicants get a taste of life at business school, and partner with organizations like the Forte Foundation (a Veritas Prep partner) to meet more female applicants in their hometowns.


Even better news is that this is not a uniquely American phenomenon — most top business schools in Europe also have attracted more women. INSEAD’s most recent graduating class, for example, was 34% women, up from 23% in 2000.

Admissions officers interviewed by the Financial Times all pointed to one significant disadvantage that MBA programs have in attracting women, compared to other professional graduate programs: Most schools expect applicant to have at least several years of full-time work experience before applying. For some young women thinking of starting a family soon, the idea of needing to build up a few years of professional momentum before even applying to school means that they may have to wait longer than they would like before having children.

This partly explains top business schools’ push to attract younger applicants (such as Harvard Business School’s HBS 2+2 Program). Early results seem to suggest that these programs are in fact attracting more women: About half of the 116 students in the program’s first year are women, compared to the full-time MBA program’s Class of 2010, which is 38% women. (And we’re proud to say that we helped a few of those women get accepted to the program!)

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