Hello & welcome to the 2nd edition in the ‘Women and the MBA’ series! Like we mentioned in the previous post of the series, women are going to B-school in greater numbers than ever before—105,900 women took the GMAT exam in testing year 2010 out of 263,979 which represented 40.1%  of the total number of people who took the test that year. This increasing number shows how seriously women are gearing up for MBA and are making major personal investments—by taking advantage of career-propelling programs ranging from intensive one-year courses, to full- and part-time MBA programs.

Noticing this change, many business schools are also constantly working to empower the women in their MBA programs and to give them more opportunities which will enable them to make further advances in the world of management education and business administration. Many top B-schools have even begun to adapt their programs and clubs to make them more appealing to women candidates, and in some cases, have even created programs, events & societies especially for women students. Let’s look at some of these initiatives taken by some top MBA institutes in this direction-

1. Notable Electives focusing on Women

a) Stanford University has several women oriented electives including “Women and Work” which examines issues such as “the rise in women’s labor force participation and the movement of women into high-wage work, the economics of child care, and the role of public policy.” According to the school, the “Women and Organizations” course “examines the experiences of women in organizations, especially those with executive positions.”

b) University of Michigan’s “Women and Change” explores the challenges and opportunities faced by women who are taking on increasingly visible and influential positions in the business world. The elective looks at the skills and aptitude required for women leaders to advance in the professional world and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with male counterparts.

c) Notre Dame offers a lecture series and seminar called “Women Leading: Is it Different?”. Dr Jana Mathews gave a lecture in the same seminar and said “I came to the conclusion that the leadership roles and the responsibilities are the same – regardless of whether you are a man or woman.” Which we believe again solidifies the notion that women are equally good leaders, if not better, than men.

2. Notable Events and Programs

a) University of Virginia has two student clubs – Graduate Women in Business and Black Business Student Forum – which work together to hold annual forums on issues surrounding women and minorities. A recent focus theme for these groups was “Our Separate Ways” which explored traditional and stereotypical roles for women in society and looked at the ways in which these roles both challenged and impeded women’s’ progress in the workplace.”

b) Wharton School of Business has contributed hugely to this ‘women’s revolution’ by conducting the ‘Forte MBA Women Conference’ or the Forte Foundation MBA Women’s Conference in June 2010. The foundation focuses on how today’s top business women are redefining what’s worth working for by leveraging their influence and stature to bring about constructive change. This two day event threw light on the significant impact a women can make in business.

c) Stanford GSB sponsored the very successful event “XX Factor: Women Changing the World”. The event focused towards women who are considering applying to business school and also communicated that whether (female) applicants are still in college or hoping to change careers; attending a full-time MBA is a good option to consider. All the prospective women students were also provided an opportunity to learn more about the Stanford GSB at the event to help them make an informed decision.

d) Harvard Business School has also added another dimension to ‘Women Power’ and manages a Women’s student Association to connect and support all women at HBS through mentoring programs, networking events, to promote the diversity of women’s achievements and contributions; and to build a powerful network of female business leaders and connect current students to HBS alumnae.

3. Notable scholarships

a)    London Business School offers a wide range of scholarships open to women only. These are:

  • Celia Atkin Avent Scholarship
  • Citi Foundation Scholarship
  • Deutsche Bank Women’s Scholarship Programme
  • Forté Foundation Fellowships
b)   Imperial College London: Imperial College London is also an institution which also deserves a special mention in this case. In order to increase the number of women in the world of business, the institute offers three different scholarships for female students with immense potential seeking admission to full time MBA program. However, there are certain eligibility criteria for choosing the students, which can be read at the institute’s official website.

So, that was a look at the various initiatives that top B-Schools are driving to empower women students as well as to appeal to potential applicants. With that, we conclude the second part in the ‘Women and the MBA’ series. We’ll be back with the 3rd and final part of the series with some real life case studies of successful women MBA’s who have done exceptionally well in their careers post a Masters degree in Management. Till then, stay tuned!