The state of women in business school is a topic that garners frequent attention, and will probably continue to do so until the numbers of female students and professors even out with their male counterparts.
Earlier this week, two schools published articles examining the gender gap. The Yale Daily News reported that women face a murky landscape at the SOM, with women making up just 20 percent of the tenured, tenure-track and full-time lecturer faculty at the school and female students making up 35 percent of the full-time MBA class of 2014.
Several SOM students and faculty members interviewed described the school as an environment that is not exactly hostile, but nevertheless presents unique challenges to women.
Alison Damaskos SOM ’12 said that women were not well-represented as teachers, as guest speakers or even as the protagonists in case studies at the school. Damaskos, who served as the co-head of Women in Management, the largest SOM organization for female students, told the Yale Daily News she was “reminded on a daily basis of the lack of female visibility” during her time as a student.
Yale SOM Dean Edward Snyder has acknowledged the low percentage of women among its tenured faculty, saying, “It is a high priority of mine to increase that percentage and to have a more diverse faculty, and it is important for the SOM community to make progress on this issue.”
The situation appears to be worse at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, where The Daily Tar Heel reports a mere 15 percent of tenured professors are women, and women comprise about 28 percent of MBA students.
“In the classroom, as the minority, we have to work harder at proving our expertise, our credentials and asserting our legitimacy in being in the role of the instructor,” says Sreedhari Desai, an assistant professor of organizational behavior profiled in the article.
“Other female faculty members reported facing similar issues. I am no longer surprised when students report in their evaluation, ‘An older man ought to be teaching this class’,” Desai says.
Though both business schools say that concerted efforts are underway to narrow the gender gap, female faculty and students say instances of gender discrimination persist. I invite you to read more about the situation at each of these schools, and if you’re a female applicant, take a closer look at what efforts of inclusion are happening on campus at your target MBA programs.
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