With gender disparity in the workplace a perennial reverberation in the media, it’s only natural that the conversation extends to the training ground for the next generation of business leaders: the business school campus.
One school leading the way for women in business is the UK’s Bath School of Management—53% of this year’s full-time MBA cohort are women.
The Bath MBA—ranked among the top programs globally by the Financial Times—prides itself on this stat. For David Todd, head of operations for post-experience programs at Bath, the high numbers of women applying to the Bath MBA program comes as no surprise.
“We have a history of good gender balance,” he says. “We aim each year to have a 50-50 female-to-male ratio.”
The Bath MBA has built up a strong base of support for its female students to ensure that, when they arrive, the atmosphere is one of collaboration, encouraging equal debate and conversation between the sexes. This, says Liz Alvey, senior marketing officer for post-experience programs at Bath, is something the school is very conscious of.
Belinda Laker, a current MBA student, says the welcoming environment at Bath helped make up her mind when she was deliberating between different business schools. “The most important thing,” she explains, “is having more females on the course, to encourage an inclusive, collaborative environment.”
At Bath School of Management, Belinda says any notion of a “macho-type” business school is removed. In the classroom, every student is able to voice their opinions comfortably, in an international, diverse environment.
“We get up and present in front of the class two or three times-a-day,” she adds, “and that really helps develop presentation and leadership skills.”
Augmenting leadership skills and pushing more women into senior roles is key to redressing the gender balance in the boardroom. A recent report by Deloitte revealed that globally, women only hold 12% of seats on company boards, with only 4% actually chairing.
Over the course of the Bath MBA program students undertake five real-time business projects with various local and international corporations—dubbed the ‘multi-project suite’. Working in diverse teams, students glean the ability to manage and lead across a web of personalities, cultures, and industry backgrounds.
Belinda, who joined Bath after a career as a senior administrator for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, says that female faculty—like Veronica Hope Hailey, University of Bath vice president and dean of Bath School of Management—can be a source of inspiration.
“We ensure that all voices are heard within the classroom and that everyone is given the skills, knowledge, and experience to realize their full potential,” Veronica says.
“We also instil in both female and male students a sense of responsibility to ensure that when they themselves are in leadership positions they ensure that others enjoy the quality of opportunity that they have been afforded whilst studying at the University of Bath.”
Director of studies for the Bath MBA, Deborah Lewis, taught Belinda International Finance and Financial Principles. In 2016, Belinda adds, the school also invited a female alum on-campus to talk to students about how she used her MBA to transition from the public into the private sector—Belinda herself wants to move into finance after graduating.
Without the right guidance post-graduation, a wealth of educational experience seems wasted. The Bath MBA also works closely with The Career Farm, an online career development company led by director Jane Barrett. This gives each student tailored guidance on how to construct their resume, how to prepare for mock interviews, all the way up to launching a successful career after graduating.
“It’s aspects like this that make you know that you have the support of the Bath MBA,” Belinda concludes. “Seeing other females who have done it—who have made it—you know you can easily step into that position after graduating.”