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Female Representation In MBA Classrooms Better Than Ever In 2020

Record number of business schools surveyed by the Forté Foundation show progress towards gender balanced classrooms for their 2020 MBA cohorts

Thu Nov 19 2020


A new survey by the Forté foundation has found that more MBA classrooms are coming closer to being gender balanced. 

Of the 52 schools surveyed, 22 had over 40% women enrolled in their 2020 intake. In the same survey taken 10 years ago, this was true of only one school. 

A record eight of these schools reported 45% or more women were enrolled in their 2020 MBA programs.

The news is a welcome positive after a tough year for gender equality in the workplace. COVID-19 has, for the most part, only amplified the existing problem.

A McKinsey study found that women’s jobs have been almost twice as vulnerable as men’s throughout the crisis, while The Harvard Business Review found that women accounted for 54% of job losses this year, despite only making up 39% of the global workforce.

Best Business Schools for women

The Forte study found that, in the fall of 2020, the average percentage of women enrolled at Forte’s 52 member schools—which represent the top MBA programs in the US, Europe and Canada—remained the same as last year, despite a challenging economic environment.

Schools that achieved over 45% women enrolled included seven schools in the US and one in Europe.  

- George Washington University School of Business – US

- Dartmouth College (Tuck School of Business) – US

- University of Oxford (Saïd Business School) – UK

- Washington University in St. Louis (Olin Business School) – US

- Duke University (Fuqua School of Business) - US

- University of Maryland (Smith School of Business) – US

- Arizona State University (W.P. Carey School of Business) - US

- University of Virginia (Darden School of Business) - US

What does this mean for the future?

Only 25% of c-suite positions are currently held by women— but MBAs often act as the springboard into executive roles. Though only 6% of S&P 500 CEOs are women, 40% of those women have an MBA. 

“An MBA, can help more women crack the glass ceiling in business and help build the leadership pipeline at companies,” says Elissa Sangster, Forté’s CEO.

Business schools also provide a space for professional women to meet international peers, share their experiences and come together in solidarity to tackle gender inequality in the workplace in all its forms, from harassment to unequal pay. 

The move toward gender equality in the MBA classroom is a triumph not only for female students and their future career prospects, but for business more broadly.

A Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation.

As modern values shift, millennial professionals are increasingly on the lookout for companies that value inclusion when sizing up potential employers, meaning there’s a knock-on effect of diverse companies attracting the best young talent. 

While women are still facing the fallout of the pandemic in the workplace, these stats from the Forte Foundation suggest there’s light at the end of the tunnel, as hopefully the increase in female representation across MBA classrooms will lead to more equitable workplaces in the future. 

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Why Are Black Women In The US Being Hit Hardest By Coronavirus?