MBA programmes have long been known as ultra-competitive, which has put off women in the past from applying. This is a real problem for women who are outpacing men in applications to degree courses in virtually all other fields – and the universities that want to attract them. A MBA is one way many women have begun to scale corporate heights and earn higher salaries than women just a few decades ago. New research from the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge found that while women candidates didn’t want special favours in the application process, they did want a supportive and collaborative environment. Manchester Metropolitan has enjoyed an increase of 20% to 50% in female MBA students after highlighting the support they give. Patricia Rees, director of the MBA programme said "it probably helps to have a woman as the first contact for applicants to the school. Women students appreciate our supportive culture, as many of them are coping with family responsibilities alongside their studies. Recently, a student wrote her dissertation with her new-born baby on her lap". They must be doing something right as the proportion of female students has risen from 20% to 50% in just three years.
The Judge in Cambridge has also taken a new direction to attract female MBA’s, by emphasising a collaborative approach with teamwork instead of individual competition, and to great effect – a full third of the programme’s students are now women. MBA students at the Tuck School of Business in America uses role-modelling to great effect, with one student saying " The school has amazing women role models in the career development office, admissions and other areas. Also the strong presence of women Tuck graduates who come back to recruit and give career advice is a valuable resource.
What has been your experience of MBA programmes and what do you think they could do to attract more women? Post your comments as we would love to hear from you!