The trends hold true in both the C-Suite and business school — there still aren’t enough women.
That’s why MBA programs are scrambling to attract more female candidates and searching for more effective ways to do it. Efforts to attract high-caliber candidates include adapting to the unique needs of applicants — like waiving the GMAT for those with the right professional experience — and providing flexible options, like online MBA programs. In fact, according to the 2016 global admissions survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), applications to these types of programs continue to grow year after year.
For both business schools and the corporate world, it’s increasingly clear that more women are needed — and here we’ll look at the why and how of achieving that goal.
Why should more women be going to business school?
There are many reasons to promote women in the corporate world — including their effectiveness as leaders and ability to help boost the bottom line. In a 2011-2012 study of nearly 16,000 leaders, women outpaced men in overall effectiveness and a wide range of leadership competencies. In fact, researchers found that “as women move up the ladder in an organization, the higher they move, the more positively they are perceived.”
In addition to being effective leaders, companies with female leaders often enjoy higher margins. According to a recent study by the Peterson Institute of International Economics of nearly 22,000 firms globally, those that had more women in multiple high-level leadership positions also enjoyed more profits.
In an article for Harvard Business Review, authors Marcos Noland and Tyler Moran say that, “When we examined the profitable firms in our sample (average net margin of 6.4%), we found that going from having no women in corporate leadership (the CEO, the board, and other C-suite positions) to a 30% female share is associated with a one-percentage-point increase in net margin — which translates to a 15% increase in profitability for a typical firm.”
How to help more women get in MBA programs
According to two recent GMAC employer surveys, many companies globally are focusing on diversity initiatives — with the most effort being geared toward women. GMAC says that the specific steps taken by these companies have been effective, and that business schools can learn from them: “GMAC’s General Population Employer Study findings should resonate with business schools determined to expand their appeal to women and underrepresented ethnic and racial populations.”
The organization recommends a collaborative approach to enhance engagement with prospective female business school candidates:
- Deliberately seek out companies that have known diversity recruitment programs and invite them to their campuses,
- Adopt (or expand) the use of mentoring programs for women and racial and ethnic minority groups on campus
- Partner these students with like-minded companies, which could help boost their employment and advancement opportunities.
By doing so, more women can enter the pipeline of opportunity early in their educational and professional endeavors. This provides a benefit to business schools, the companies they collaborate with, and most importantly, the women themselves.