Women in B-School: A Global Perspective

More women than ever are considering pursuing an MBA, which has led to some unexpected pipeline trends revealed by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) in this month’s Graduate Management News.

GMAC has reported that the number of GMAT tests taken by women surpassed 100,000 for the first time ever last year. Exams taken by women in the testing year ending June 30, 2009 represented 39.5% of all exams taken, a figure that has changed only one percentage point in 10 years.

However, Lamia Walker, GMAC regional director for Europe, Middle East and Asia,  points out some major shifts by region, age, and career intent. “When we break down gender distribution by regional citizenship, we find a wide range ”“ from 56.1 percent of exams in Eastern Europe to just 24.6 percent in Central Asia,” she says.

(source: Graduate Management Admission Council)

Key findings from the 2010 mba.com Registrants Survey Report indicate that:

Schools need to recruit women sooner. The average woman first considers business school less than two years after finishing her undergraduate degree, almost nine months earlier than the average man. Women also sit for the GMAT exam sooner than men and submit their first business school application more rapidly than male counterparts.

Women typically submit fewer applications. Female applicants considering full-time MBA programs submitted an average of 2.4 applications, compared with 3.0 for men. Women in Central Asia and in Asia Pacific submitted the greatest number of applications on average, 3.7 and 3.3 respectively.

Don’t write off the female quants. Female prospective students are more likely than men to consider MA/MS in Accounting programs, and the average number of submitted applications reported by women to any graduate management education program type is highest among those applying to MA/MS Finance programs (3.2 applications on average in 2009).

The survey report found numerous differences between men and women when it comes to preferred study location, financing plans, information sources, business school preferences and employment outcome, as well as significant differences by gender in the skills that prospective students hope to improve in business school.

Armed with this information, MBA programs should be able to more effectively outreach to talented female applicants.

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