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What Makes A Business School Female-Friendly?

Business schools want more women in their programs. What makes a business school female-friendly? Let's take a closer look at five characteristics of female-friendly business schools.

Feb 4, 2018
  • Education
  • Student Tips
What Makes A Business School Female-Friendly?

If you’re a woman aspiring to go to business school, the time has never been better.

Based on a recent report in The Financial Times, some business schools attract more women than others.


Some schools show their dedication to recruiting and supporting female students more than others in a variety of ways. Scholarships aimed at promoting more gender diversity in business help, as do women’s events and fellowships.

In the Financial Times article, David Simpson, an admissions director for an MBA program in the UK said, “Often when we source new awards, we are talking to potential donors about scholarships for women." He added, “That’s what a lot of our corporate and alumni donors are interested in anyway because most people see the issue of getting talented women into the pipeline to lead organizations as crucial to addressing a global imbalance.”

1. Female-specific scholarships

The presence scholarships specifically for women plays a significant role in attracting women to MBA programs.

Besides the obvious help with paying tuition, there’s a more profound reason that women-specific scholarships are critical for women to attend.

According to The Financial Times, women applying to MBA programs generally have greater financial concerns than their male counterparts. Why? For most full-time MBA programs, applicants need to have work experience. Between university graduation and MBA programs, women are more likely than men to work in lower-paying industries—and experience the gender pay gap.

Most women are already starting the MBA journey at a financial disadvantage compared to their male counterparts.

Many top schools are now offering merit-based scholarships for women to encourage exceptional women to enroll in MBA programs—and to make a strong impact in the business world.

2. The presence of a Women’s Student Association

When there’s a group on campus specifically designed to support women in their education and careers, women are more likely to

From review sessions to mentoring and advocacy, and social events an active women’s student association helps female MBA students develop a sense of community around gender equality, not just in the business world, but everywhere.

3. It’s open to young women

It’s a good time to be a woman who wants to pursue an MBA in business. Especially a young woman.

Business schools are starting to pitch to undergraduate women, to catch them before they enter the workforce and put an MBA on their potential trajectory.

Some are even starting to pitch to high schools.

The idea? While business schools and MBA programs typically prefer applicants with some work experience, MBA recruitment offices realize that this puts women in their late 20s or early 30s—coincidentally the age when lots of women decide to start their families.

If MBA programs can get women thinking about earning an MBA early, the hope is that women will plan for it while they’re young, and apply when the time is right.

4. Many women on faculty and in leadership roles

The business world is skewed toward males, and the business school world is no different.

By creating an environment where women faculty feel intellectually equal (or even superior to) their male counterparts, business schools can attract top female candidates.

If the environment is apparently unfriendly to women and female faculty and staff don’t feel supported, female students won’t, either.

5. Gender-based research in management and economics

Business schools cannot afford to overlook the differences between men and women in management and economics.

Women work well together in the workplace and too much competition can be harmful to their working relationships.

Men generally have a different approach to competition.

What happens when relationships among women change in the workplace? Why is there a perception that women in business are mean or cut-throat?

It’s important for a business school to understand that men and women typically have different approaches to competitive structures—and some of those are harmful to their success.

Learn more about earning your MBA.

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