Gender disparity in the workplace is not only a moral and social issue; it's also a critical economic challenge of the future. A recent study in the UK found that 74% of British firms pay men more than women, and it's clear that women are underrepresented in specific industries and job roles, especially when it comes to higher management roles and senior political positions. And while the reasoning behind the disparity is tied up in several complicated political, cultural, and economic factors, it's vital every woman has the opportunity to make it to the very top of whatever profession she chooses.  

Thankfully, some MBA programs are already doing their very best to attract more women, empowering more and more with the skills and contacts to succeed at the very top of the business world. 

Here's a closer look at why women matter in the workplace and how one school in particular is opening up the path towards gender equality. 

A strong case for more female leaders

According to UN statistics, women represent under 24% of those holding political office around the world. Moreover, Pew Research Center data shows the percentage of female Fortune 500 CEOs is around just four percent. Such figures show there's a long way to go before women can feel adequately represented. Achieving this goal requires a massive cultural shift, beginning with our attitude towards high-achieving women and what skills are really needed to become a successful leader. 

What springs to mind when you think about the idea of a powerful businessman? Alan Sugar and his infamous catchphrase "you're fired"? Or the ruthless Gordon Gekko from the 1980s classic  Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps? Or maybe your mind is cast back even further to the titans of modern industry and finance such as Henry Ford or John D. Rockefeller. Either way, it's fair to say these men, fictional or not, have become archetypes of a certain kind of businessman -- ruthless, shrewd, ambitious, aggressive, and domineering. In short, they embody behaviors often associated with masculinity. And if this is what's needed to succeed in business, then surely it's natural for men to dominate, right? Well, not really.

The stark division in common perception between the masculine and the feminine presupposes men display ‘manly’ behavior, women display ‘womanly’ behavior, and to do anything else is not only a violation of social norms but also somehow unnatural. But such narrow definitions are mere stereotypes. 

To start with, women can negotiate and bargain with the very best. In fact, it's been shown women are particularly effective when it comes to finding a resolution to high-pressure situations. Women often drive cross-party cooperation in the political sphere, helping governments or businesses overcome frustrating infighting and seemingly hopeless deadlocks. 

Women also make great mentors, providing more well-rounded support to up-and-coming employees. What's more, women are far more willing to mentor other women, whereas men tend to prefer working with other male proteges. Again, the reasoning behind these choices is multifaceted, but it's clear that getting more women into business is the best way of helping the next generation of bright and talented females reach their full potential. 

How business schools are helping

In the early 2000s, the number of women in the top business schools seemed stuck at around 25%. Since then, thanks to work from organizations such as the Forte Foundation, that number is now a much healthier 40%. Forte is a consortium of schools and businesses that came together to encourage more women to apply for MBAs via several women in leadership events, as well as making campuses and courses more welcoming to female students. This included the creation of several on-campus support and discussion groups that tackle some of the more concerning aspects of inequality in the workplace, such as sexual harassment and gender discrimination. 

41 North Business School

One school working diligently to help promote equality in the business world is 41 North Business School, based in Istanbul, Turkey. Among the school's many programs, female applicants will find the Executive MBA Grenoble Ecole de Management France, Istanbul-Cohort Program in partnership with 41 North Business School. The French business school was ranked 21st in the Financial Times' European Business Schools(2017) list. 

The EMBA is tailor-made to give ambitious students all the skills and knowledge they need to become the business leaders of tomorrow. The program has been ranked 64th worldwide, 28th in Europe, and in the top five in France. And with up to 25% of scholarships reserved for female applicants, the EMBA is committed to supporting gender equality and encouraging the empowerment of women in the workplace. 

Female students will also have an extra support network through the school's “Women in Leadership” program, which encourages women managers to grow their sphere of influence in their own style. Elif Ayça Denge, now an Operational Risk Vice President at a top private bank in Turkey, is one woman who experienced its benefits first hand. She says, "It is amazing (and shocking at the same time) to become aware of yourself and the things you have not noticed about yourself until this day. As an individual and a woman who continues her journey in business, I strongly recommend you to become part of this experience."

So if you're ready to realize your full leadership potential and start an exciting new chapter in life, it's time to apply for the Executive MBA at 41 North Business School. But get your CV in as soon as possible. The final cut off date for the limited number of scholarships is the 28th of July 2019.

41 North Business School

Article written in association with 41 North Business School.