Women Discuss Their Experiences In B-School

Benefits, pain points, and thoughts on what can change as more women seek out MBAs.

Women In B-School | Admissionado

There are A LOT of inspiring women on the Admissionado team.

So, when we found out that female MBA enrollment is at an all-time high, AND that 12 of the best schools in the world (including Harvard, Wharton and Yale, just to name a few) have campuses comprised of over 40% female students, we weren’t really all that surprised. In fact, the only thing that was surprising to us is that the number isn’t higher!

The findings we just mentioned (published in a report by the Forté Foundation last week) inspired us to reach out to some of our amazing female consultants.

Below, they share their experiences in business school and beyond; the benefits, the pain points, and their thoughts on what can change as more women seek out MBAs. Here’s what they had to say.

Anne-Marie Vignola, Senior Consultant
NYU Stern School of Business

“I think many of the women at NYU had so much of the total package, meaning they presented themselves well, were articulate, and passionate about whatever field they were pursuing. Despite that, I still think there were, and are, huge challenges to some fields for women. That falls into the ‘pisses me off’ category because it means they have to work that much harder for opportunities in certain fields, in which, there’s simply a natural sharing of information amongst guys (job opps, intel). It is nuanced, but it does matter – a sort of network effect – and that can be frustrating.”

Ipshita Jain, Senior Consultant
Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business

“I have a three-year-old, and sometimes it’s difficult to talk about work-life balance with male colleagues. It is not easy to manage both work and home, and I wish our work places acknowledged and accommodated that. Maternity and Paternity leave is something I really wish for, and hope to see happen before my daughter joins the workforce. I think if we had more women leaders in the workforce, there would be more thought given to such issues.”

Leslie Curry, Senior Consultant
UVA’s Darden School of Business

“As you know, your career search starts the day you begin school, if not sooner. Networking plays a huge role in this, whether on campus or visiting alums at companies of interest off campus. I found that many women in my class excelled at this critical part of the b-school experience. Often, women tend to be more open and stronger listeners – and recruiters and alums love to talk about their own experiences! Capitalize on this natural strength – your curiosity and ease with others will be remembered, and recruiting will progress more smoothly.”

Anonymous, Senior Consultant
Harvard Business School

“Business school was the last period in my life in which being a woman wasn’t an issue. After graduation, I held fairly senior positions as a woman in child bearing age and I just wish business school had prepared me for what was to come. I met my husband in business school and when we went back for our five year reunion several people who didn’t know us back in the day assumed I was there as his significant other, including another female classmate. Not a single person thought he was there accompanying me. We are the same age and have similar personalities so it was clearly a gender issue. This happened even though 1/3 of our classmates were women. Will increasing that number to 1/2 make any difference? I am not sure but I think openly discussing gender issues might.”

Julie Bowman
UC Berkley’s Haas School of Business

“I was pleasantly surprised to find such a strong network of women in business school who really had each other’s back. Rather than feeling like other women were competing with me, I felt like we were in it together and there to help each other out. Some of my best friends are still women who I met in B-School.”

Regina Altaras, Senior Consultant
Columbia Business School

“My MBA allowed me to move from a biotech process development job into marketing. It really opened a whole side of biotech/Pharma I would not have had access to. As a working mother, an MBA equipped me with the tools that allow me to be an independent consultant and contractor with big consulting firms that cater to top Pharma/biotech, WHILE still allowing me to have a (relatively) flexible schedule.”

Mandy Tang, Senior Consultant
Columbia Business School

“The only time I ever perceived anything off gender-wise was after B-School, when I was running a startup and raising money from institutional investors. That is traditionally a boys club, so there were times when I was underestimated, or not taken seriously. There was a lot of “you girls” and “you ladies” kind of down-talk. I don’t know if that was my gender, my race, or maybe they just didn’t like the business idea (ha!). But again, my Columbia network helped me tremendously in my fundraising, and my male mentors from CBS were the ones who really took me under their wing and guided me through the process.”

You can check out the full report on female MBA enrollment from the Forté Foundation here.

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