Cornell Tech, New York’s $2 billion high-tech business school, is to scale up efforts to boost female entrepreneurship — highlighting a global education drive to get more women founding start-ups.
Cornell Tech’s tie-up with Verizon, the $216 billion media corporation, will also help to boost the number of women pursing tech careers. Despite the explosion of MBA-level hiring by tech groups such as Amazon, the number of women who graduate from tech-related disciplines is less than 1% of the total, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
As well as Verizon, Accenture, Citi, IBM, JPMorgan Chase and others are backing the initiative.
“Due to lack of access, awareness and encouragement, women are a significant minority when it comes to tech education and employment,” said Dan Huttenlocher, dean of Cornell Tech. “The tech industry is losing out on their diverse input and skills.”
Verizon’s CEO, Lowell McAdam, said: “Innovation accelerates when there is diversity in the workforce. As a nation, we have an opportunity to better mobilize a critical segment of tomorrow’s tech pioneers — women.”
However, research by the FT for its most recent MBA rankings showed the number of female MBA graduates employed in technology had surged by 22%.
Cornell Tech’s Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship in NY (WiTNY) scheme includes summer programs in product design and entrepreneurship.
Schools have been keen to boost gender diversity in entrepreneurship, as a growing number of MBAs are shunning blue chips for start-ups. IE Business School, Aston Business School, and MGM have all run initiatives designed to boost female students’ involvement in entrepreneurship.
Women have long faced headwinds. Men are 60% more likely to get funding than women, according to a study published by MIT, Harvard and Wharton.
“A lack of finance holds back entrepreneurs from scaling companies,” said Bill Aulet, head of the center for entrepreneurship at Sloan School of Management.
However, data published last year by research firm PitchBook showed venture capital-backed female entrepreneurs from 10 top MBA programs raised combined investment of $2.6 billion over five years.
Cornell Tech’s WiTNY will also provide scholarship funding for women in a bid to boost female enrolment.
Last year 36 MBA programs that are partnered with Forté Foundation, a consortium of schools which promotes women’s business careers, awarded $18.5 million in scholarships to women, up from $5.6 million in 2010.
This has proved effective for some. Forté says 12 US business schools now have 40% or more female MBA enrolment, including Northwestern Kellogg, Wharton, and Simon Graduate School.
Erin Kellerhals, executive director of full-time MBA admissions for UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, said: “Diversity in the classroom is a critical factor in our learning environment.”
Yet the share of women enrolled in MBA programs hasn’t risen above 37% over the past decade, according to AACSB International, the b-school accrediting body.
“In spite of the changes that have occurred in women’s participation in the labour market, we have a long way to go,” said Dianne Bevelander, executive director of the Erasmus Centre for Women and Organizations at Rotterdam School of Management.
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