How business schools and universities can drive the gender diversity agenda

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By CEO Worldwide

Women currently represent 36% of European MBA students and 42% of US MBA students.

However, when they enter the business world, they’ll notice just 22% of board members, and 7% of board presidents, are female.

Are business schools doing enough to push and prioritise gender diversity? For some, the answer is ‘not yet’.

Breaking down enrollment barriers

Without a steady stream of qualified female MBA students, the landscape of senior management is unlikely to change. Some international business schools are working hard to attract more female applicants each academic year.

Barriers begin to form before women even reach enrollment. 29% of women turn down MBA offers because of “financial concerns”, whereas the main reason male applicants rejected offers was because they chose an alternative university. In response, top business schools in China, Singapore, and Europe have launched MBA scholarships exclusively for women, ranging from €8,000 to full tuition costs.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School pairs prospective female students with current female students, funds outreach programmes, and even “hand-write congratulatory postcards to successful female applicants” to invite them to their MBA programme. 44% of Wharton students are female, making them one of the most diverse MBAs in global rankings.

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