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Number Of Women Deans Leading Business Schools On The Rise, Says Survey

Women have risen to make up almost a third of current business school deans around the world, according to a new survey

Wed Mar 13 2024

Nearly one-third of business school deans today are women, according to a new survey from AACSB. The percentage of women leading the world’s business schools rose from 26% to 30% between 2021 and 2023. 

Conducted between October 8th and November 8th 2023, the Deans Survey was based on responses from 434 deans and 36 interim deans across the globe. In total, there were 64 countries represented within the study. 

Taking place every three years, AACSB's survey findings revealed a moderate 4% rise occurred since it was last carried out. Among those deans who were currently in the role on an interim or acting basis, the proportion was higher at 44%, with the previous survey finding interim or acting deans were 35% female. 

The proportion of male to female deans differed between regions. In the US, where 239 survey respondents participated, women comprised 31% of deans. In Europe, 89 deans took part with 33% identifying as female. Business schools in Asia also contributed with 52 deans taking part, of which just 13% were female. 

AACSB also surveyed deans in Latin America and the Caribbean, where 33% of the 18 respondents were female. In the Middle East, 13% of the 16 surveyed deans were women. In Africa, 22% of the nine participating deans were women, while in Oceania, women made up a majority of the 11 surveyed deans at 55%. 

The survey differentiated between deans who were experienced and those who were new to the role. Experienced deans were those who had held deanships before or had been in the role since 2017 or earlier. New deans were those who had taken the role after 2018. 

New deans were more likely to be women than experienced survey respondents, however they still comprised a minority. In total, 54 of the 229 experienced deans were women (24%), compared to 74 out of 205 new deans. 

The survey findings are reflective of broader gender diversity trends across the business education sphere. Among degree cohorts, women are also in the minority: a recent Forté Foundation study found women enrollment in MBA programs currently sits at 42%, though this marks a 10% increase since 2018. 

However, representation at the top of business schools is markedly higher than within industry, with women making up just 10.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs.