There were a record number of women CEOs in Fortune's Most Powerful Women in Business list this year – but only a third can credit their business success to an MBA degree.
About two thirds – 63% – of these female corporate leaders did not go to business school, despite there being a record-breaking number of women chief executives this year.
Prominent names including Ginni Rometty, CEO of technology giant IBM and Mary Barra, CEO of US car-maker General Motors, are included in the 2014 list.
Only 18 of the world’s 50 most powerful female business figures attended a business school program, according to Fortune’s analysis of the educational backgrounds of 49 chief executives. One CEO – Barbara Rentler of Ross Stores, the department store chain – did not disclosure her educational records.
The findings reflect the low level of female enrolment at the world’s leading business schools. Only one of the top-100 universities in this year’s MBA rankings admitted more women than men – the International University in Monaco.
The median percentage of females enrolled in MBA programs is 32%. But at some business schools this figure drops to about 18%.
These low figures have remained about the same, despite campaigns to promote female enrolment. A study by Forté Foundation, a non-profit that promotes careers and business education for women, found that an MBA can increase a woman’s’ earning potential by over $3 million.
There have been a number of women’s-only sponsorships launched by MBA programs, while Forté Foundation has awarded $45 million in scholarships to more than 2,000 female MBA students.
Overall only 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, according to Forté Foundation.
Some female chief execs such as Safra Catz, co-CEO of technology group Oracle, opted for professional qualifications in other fields such as law.