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Top Business Schools Attract More Women MBA Applicants In 2022

Harvard, Wharton, and Oxford Saïd are among the 17 Forté member schools that have increased women MBA enrollment

Mon Nov 14 2022

It’s no secret that there has been a drop in applications among business schools in 2022. But there’s also good news: falling applications haven’t coincided with a decrease in women MBA enrollment.

At John Hopkins Carey School of Business, women this year make up 52% of the MBA classroom. Wharton, a prestigious Magic 7 (M7) business school, follows closely behind, reaching gender parity in MBA enrollment in 2022.

In fact, at 17 of the Forté Foundation member business schools, female MBA enrollment rose in 2022 to its highest proportion on record, reaching at least 45%. 

The Forté Foundation is a nonprofit organization that champions gender diversity in business leadership, working with business schools to increase female enrollment and eradicate barriers to professional education. It says its actions are driven by the fact that only 6% of Fortune 500 CEOs—and 28% of S&P 500 board members—are women.

Business schools can become Forté member schools and work with the foundation to increase gender parity across their business leadership programs. The organization currently works with 56 leading MBA schools in North America and Europe.

Gender parity on the horizon for some of the best business schools

Business schools have long grappled with the problem of how to attract more women MBA applicants. 

Top business schools can provide a rigorous business education, but without MBA classrooms being representative of the outside world, the learning experience can only go so far. 

That’s why business schools are always keen to boost the representation of women MBAs, ensuring female applicants know their potential and value in the business and leadership world.

Alongside John Hopkins Carey School of Business, and Wharton, which saw the highest proportion of female enrollment among the Forté group, other schools saw rising numbers of women admitted. Schools just short of 50% female MBA enrollment included fellow M7 schools Kellogg and Harvard, at 48% and 46% respectively, and UK-based Oxford Saïd (48%) and Cambridge Judge (47%).

“More women today understand the opportunities an MBA offers and our work has helped build the pipeline of young women interested in business careers and advancing to leadership,” said Elissa Sangster, CEO of Forté.

Since 2011, Forté member schools have seen a 10% increase in women MBA enrollment, experiencing a record 2% rise in 2021 from 39% in 2020.

“Every percentage gain in women’s enrollment is hard won, much like the struggle to increase women in the C-suite and on boards,” says Elissa.

How business schools work to achieve gender equality

The Forté member schools work with the nonprofit to increase women MBA enrollment and improve accessibility to leadership positions.

One of the many ways that schools work with the foundation is by offering Forté Fellows MBA scholarships for women.

There are also Forté member events for female business school students to attend, including the MBA Women’s Leadership Conference and the Candid Conversations for Women of Color event, which connects female MBAs with inspirational women MBA students, Forté partner companies, and teaches valuable leadership skills. 

Students at Forté partner schools can also gain support to launch allyship groups on campus and access tools to help make the most out of the business school experience. 

This article is based on the findings from a Forté Foundation report.

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