Female Leadership: Where it’s Strong, Where it Can Improve

Gender issues at business school remain a hot topic in graduate management education, and just this past week, three fascinating articles on the subject have been published. The first is a Bloomberg Businessweek interview with …

businesswomen around the globe

Gender issues at business school remain a hot topic in graduate management education, and just this past week, three fascinating articles on the subject have been published. The first is a Bloomberg Businessweek interview with Dean Allison Davis-Blake of University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

As one of only ten female deans at the top 60 business schools, Davis-Blake tells the media outlet that she’s used to being alone at the top. She points out that the reason why the vast majority of deans are men can be traced back to the 1980s, which is when most of today’s deans were in graduate school and women made up a much smaller percentage of students pursuing advanced degrees.

The road to deanship includes many required benchmarks, explains Davis-Blake, from earning a PhD to landing a tenure track job as an assistant professor to eventually making tenure, and then candidates must further distinguish themselves as academic leaders. We currently find very few women at the other side of those hurdles.

While the dean had many male mentors who exposed her to leadership opportunities along the way, Davis-Blake says she hopes women coming up today have something she didn’t: more direct female role models.

Speaking of her mentors, the dean tells Bloomberg, “They might be a lot like me dimensionally, they might think a lot like me, or they might speak a lot like me, but I can’t look at them and say, ‘Oh, that person has the same issues in life that I have.’ Looking at another woman, I can say that I see myself more in that person. Having more women deans around allows people to say, ‘Yeah, I could do this’.”

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Female numbers in MBA programs were miniscule 30 years ago, but the demographics are changing, and many top business schools have enrolled up to 40% women in the Class of 2016. Women make up 37% of the Yale School of Management Class of 2016, down 2 percentage points from last year, but there are still healthy signs of strong female leadership at the school.

A new story in the Yale Daily News  reports that earlier this month, the SOM student body elected its fourth female student body president in a row, calling this a sign of increasing female involvement and diversity at the business school.

Brittan Berry (MBA ’16), who was just elected for the position, says the SOM’s dedication to diversity contributes to this continuity in female leadership, adding, ““I think the SOM is continuously moving forward in its mission to become one of the most diverse business schools.”

According to current student government president Alexa Allen (MBA ’15), about half of all leadership positions at the SOM are occupied by women, and that “diversity is the norm.” Former president Caitlin Sullivan (MBA ’13) concurs, noting that “although her class at the SOM was about 35 percent women, the women within the school exhibited disproportionate influence because of the leadership positions they occupied.”

If this trend at Yale SOM (and elsewhere) continues to grow, Dean Davis-Blake will be able to rest easy about having sufficient female role models for the next generation of women leaders.

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Whereas traditional two-year MBA programs are making notable strides to achieve parity in female enrollment, a new article in Fortune reports that is far from the case at executive MBA programs offered at the country’s top business schools.

Harvard Business School’s two-year MBA program is made up of 41% women; the EMBA enrolls 24%. At MIT Sloan School of Management, the figure in their executive program is about 17%. And while the Wharton School declined to offer specifics, the school’s vice dean of executive education Monica McGrath told Fortune that although the two-year program had almost 50% female enrollment, “In executive education, it’s not even close to that. It’s a problem, for sure.”

In short, notes the article’s author Katherine Noyes, “Exec-ed programs skew male because, unfortunately, C-suite offices still skew male.”

And so it goes back to the problems Dean Allison Davis-Blake laid out above. Executive education programs are designed for professionals who have been in the workforce for ten-plus years, and that’s where the numbers for women begin their decline.

The outlook is not all doom and gloom though. With the approaching parity we’re seeing in two-year MBA programs, in another 20 years this issue of imbalance may be nothing more than a relic of the past.

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MIT Sloan, Bank Negara Malaysia Collaborate to Establish Asia School of Business

MIT Sloan School of Management has entered into a 10-year collaboration with Bank Negara Malaysia to establish the Asia School of Business (ASB) in the English-speaking global financial center of Kuala Lumpur. The school, which …

MIT Sloan School of Management has entered into a 10-year collaboration with Bank Negara Malaysia to establish the Asia School of Business (ASB) in the English-speaking global financial center of Kuala Lumpur. The school, which is scheduled to open in September 2016, will host an inaugural class of 25 to 35 students into a two-year MBA program.

MIT Sloan Logo“The distinguishing feature of the ASB will be the use of Action Learning as a core part of the educational process,” explains Charles Fine, the Chrysler Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management at MIT Sloan, who will serve as the founding president and dean of the ASB.

“Every class that we offer and every lecture that we give will be intimately connected with the companies and institutions in the region so that students emerge with a deep understanding of the business, political, and economic issues that come to play in ASEAN and beyond,” Fine says, adding that “Our intent is to create a world-class school of management in Southeast Asia.

The ASEAN region, which is comprised of ten countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, has an economy valued at $2.4 trillion and a population of 600 million. The region is the fourth-largest export market of the U.S. and the fifth-largest overall trading partner.

The ASB’s curriculum will apply MIT Sloan’s values and approach, according to Richard Schmalensee, Co-Chair of the ASB, and the former Dean of MIT Sloan.

“Like Sloan’s, the ASB program is based on three pillars,” he says. “The first pillar is a tradition of doing rigorous, intellectual work on the important problems businesses face. The second pillar is a global perspective, with particular emphasis on Asia for the ASB. The final pillar—which is an integral part of MIT’s history and legacy and one that the ASB will also emphasize—is a strong spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in enterprises of all sizes.”

The ASB will ultimately have its own faculty, but in the short term professors from MIT Sloan will teach at the school and provide guest lectures. In year one, classes will take place in the bank’s state-of-the-art learning center and students will live at its residential campus. Architectural plans are underway to build a new campus on nearby land.

Faculty at the ASB will also have exchange opportunities via MIT’s International Faculty Fellows program. Professors will spend time at MIT’s Cambridge campus participating in activities designed to boost teaching effectiveness, improve research, and enhance scholarship.

As part of the collaboration, the ASB students will spend four weeks on an educational exchange program at MIT Sloan learning about U.S. business. Students will visit companies in the Boston area, attend lectures from MIT Sloan faculty, and complete an Action Learning project with MIT Sloan MBA students.

These exchanges aim to increase MIT Sloan’s knowledge of ASEAN, and deepen its ties with the worldwide academic community.

“While the journey ahead for Asia has tremendous promise, businesses will need to rise to new challenges arising from the changes that are reshaping the regional and global environment. The ASB aims to advance the frontiers of business innovation and entrepreneurship in Asia and to develop future leaders,” says Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia and Co-Chair of the ASB Board of Governors.

Tuition to the ASB will be in the range of US$40,000 per year.

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MIT Sloan Finance Symposium Includes MBA Application Fee Waiver

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MIT Sloan Finance Symposium Includes MBA Application Fee Waiver

Are you considering an MBA and planning on pursuing a career in finance? Then you may want to look into the upcoming finance symposium hosted by MIT Sloan School of Management on Saturday, May 9th. …

MIT Sloan interviews

Are you considering an MBA and planning on pursuing a career in finance? Then you may want to look into the upcoming finance symposium hosted by MIT Sloan School of Management on Saturday, May 9th.

This day-long workshop will cover the numerous finance opportunities at MIT Sloan, including the MBA Finance Track, as well as the various conferences, electives, and student clubs available. It also offers an inside look into the admissions process and career opportunities after an MBA.

According to the announcement on the MIT Sloan MBA admissions blog, attendees will participate in MBA-level courses and round-table discussions, and have a chance to interact with faculty and current MBA students, who will join participants for lunch and chat about  the MIT Sloan experience.

Maura Herson, director of the MBA and Master of Science in Management Studies program office, said in a statement that the Focus on Finance event was created to help young professionals imagine a potential future career in finance through interacting with faculty members, current students, and MBA admissions and career staff.

“Our goal is to give early-career finance professionals an opportunity to consider how an MBA, and in particular an MBA from MIT Sloan, could help them to accelerate their trajectory in the industry or to transfer their skills into a related field,” Herson explained.

Registration for the Focus on Finance Symposium is $100, and attendees who later apply to the MIT Sloan MBA program will have their application fee waived.

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GMAC Releases 2015 Prospective MBA Students Report

Conventional wisdom holds that students considering business school give great weight, if not the greatest weight, to published school rankings as a guide to their decision.  However, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2015 mba.com …

Conventional wisdom holds that students considering business school give great weight, if not the greatest weight, to published school rankings as a guide to their decision.  However, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2015 mba.com Prospective Students Survey Report released earlier this week, the truth is that students place other factors above rankings in selecting a school.

The survey uncovers that students from various parts of the world display distinct differences in ascribing what factors matter most to them and the order of importance in which they consider those factors when making decisions about b-school.

what matters to MBA applicantsWhen students listed their top five consideration criteria for actually selecting a program and a study destination, rankings didn’t rank.

The study destination distinction is important as more than half of prospective students (52 percent) seek to study outside their country of citizenship, up from 40 percent in 2010 (and noticeable among Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern citizens). The top 10 preferred study destinations worldwide are the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, France, India, Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore, Netherlands, and Australia.

The survey does show that published rankings have influence in candidates’ school consideration but places rankings overall as the third most consulted information resource for prospective students, finishing behind school websites and friends and family.

“Given the degree to which school rankings dominate the discussion, it is interesting that as their decision making progresses, students themselves say that rankings fall in importance,” says Gregg Schoenfeld, GMAC’s director of Management Education Research. “While the survey is geared toward helping schools market to prospective students, applicants can use report insights to inform and strengthen their selection process.”

In addition to these findings, the 2015 report also explores regional and generational differences regarding prospective students’ career goals, program preferences, decision-making time lines, and top study destinations, as well as education financing choices, motivations, online/offline course delivery, the role of social media and preferences about b-school culture.

An especially interesting finding focuses on aspiring entrepreneurs, with 28 percent of survey respondents indicating that they plan to start their own businesses compared with 19 percent just five years ago. Respondents in Africa (45 percent), Latin America (44 percent) and Central and South Asia including India (43 percent) led this segment.

Highlights from the survey findings include:

  • Even as business school portfolios of master’s programs continue to diversify, the MBA remains the degree most often considered by prospective students. MBA programs are exclusively considered by half (52 percent) of prospective students, globally. Gauging the interest of prospective students across more than 25 MBA and specialized business master’s program options, 26 percent of today’s candidates are considering both degree types.
  • Sixty-five percent of prospective students pursue graduate management education to increase the job opportunities that are available to them.
  • Segmenting prospective students by career goals reveals three groups: career enhancers (34 percent of respondents), career switchers (38 percent), and aspiring entrepreneurs (28 percent).
  • The Millennial generation (those born from 1980 to 1998) dominates the distribution of today’s prospective business school students and represented 88 percent of all survey respondents. Schools have three-months, on average, to engage Millennials from when they take the GMAT exam and when they submit their first application to business school.

Nearly 12,000 registrants to GMAC’s mba.com website participated in the survey, conducted throughout 2014. With analysis of survey responses available for all world regions, including 30 specific countries, this is the largest data source of its kind.

You can download the full report here.

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Building an MBA Program Shortlist

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HBS Launches Recruitment Program Targeting Women

Harvard Business School has launched a new initiative to spark interest in graduate management education among college women and recent graduates who may not have previously considered a career in business. According to an article …

Harvard Business School has launched a new initiative to spark interest in graduate management education among college women and recent graduates who may not have previously considered a career in business.

women at HBSAccording to an article in The Harvard Crimson, the program—called PEEK—is aimed at women-only colleges such as Wellesely and Barnard as a way to address the under-representation of women at the business school, whose enrollment currently stands at 41 percent.

PEEK will cost $500 per participant, and the program plans to host 70 to 80 rising juniors, seniors, and recent graduates during a weekend in June to familiarize them with the MBA program, the Crimson reports.

Participants will have accommodations on campus, take part in assigned case studies, and meet with faculty, current students, and alumni, explains Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Dee Leopold, who calls the program a way for prospective students “to literally take a peek at what happens in an MBA program.”

The PEEK program is the latest in HBS’ series of efforts to tackle gender equity issues head-on. The school came under intense scrutiny in 2013 as it celebrated 50 years of women at HBS while still grappling with gender inequity and sexism.

In January 2014, Dean Nitin Nohria addressed the subject at an alumnae event, where he apologized to female students and professors past and present for any sexist or offensive behavior they experienced at the business school. In that speech, he said the school owed them better, and promised to make swift changes to address the inequalities that still exist.

There may still be a ways to go, but the PEEK program sounds like a great step in the right direction.

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Challenges and Opportunities for Female MBA Applicants

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