As senior executives and rising business stars mingled at the Yale Club of New York City Wednesday night, the School of Management-sponsored event seemed to be yet another gathering of Yale’s “old-boy network” — except none of the participants were boys.
Engaged in an aggressive campaign to recruit more women, the SOM held the networking event as a follow-up to the Women’s Summit that took place in November. The event attracted more than 200 prospective students, current students and alumni and was jointly coordinated by the SOM admissions office and Women In Management, an SOM student group.
“It’s a new format we’ve tried using, and it’s been incredibly successful,” said Rita Chepulis, Deputy Director of Admissions and a key coordinator of the event. “People can really feel the energy.”
While the primary focus of the evening was on networking and recruiting, the event featured seven prominent women in the business world, six of them SOM alumnae. Among them were McKinsey and Co. executive Anne Board SOM ’79 and Carnegie Corporation vice president Ellen Shuman SOM ’84.
“The summit showcased some of the great women in business,” said Beth Farrelly SOM ’02, a coordinator of Women In Management. “But it had a more intimate and casual atmosphere. It was more focused on greeting people and enjoying one another.”
Tiffany Burns, a prospective student and an admissions officer at the U.S. Military Academy, said the event showed SOM’s commitment to women.
“Yale’s walking the walk and not just offering lip service,” Burns said. “For alums to take time out of their busy schedules to talk to prospective students — that says a lot. It showed how strong alumni connections at Yale really are.”
In addition to the two summits, the Women In Management group has initiated a mentoring program in which current students maintain regular contact with applicants and help guide them through the process.
SOM Director of Admissions James Stevens said he hopes these initiatives will increase the percentage of women in next year’s class. Currently, only 27 percent of SOM’s student body is female. The national average hovers around 30 percent, Farrelly said.
Judging from preliminary figures, both Stevens and Chepulis said it is likely that the SOM will attract more women than it has in past years.
After two rounds of admissions, the School of Management has seen the female applicant pool rise by 51 percent compared to this point last year. And with two more rounds of admissions left, the number of applications from women already has exceeded the total number of applications from women last year.
Overall, the applicant pool has risen by 43 percent from this point last year, Stevens said. He added that with such a substantial increase in applications, the admissions process should be more competitive than ever.
“We’re not just seeing an increase in applicants,” Stevens said. “We’re seeing an increase in great applicants.”
Stevens said he expects last year’s overall admissions rate of 20 percent to be driven down even further by the surge in applications.
While SOM is making a concerted effort to increase its female student body, Stevens said that women will not receive any special consideration in the application process.
“I’d love to see [the percentage of women] go over 30 percent, and I’m confident that it will this year,” Stevens said. “But first and foremost, we’re looking for the best students. We’re using the same standards for all applicants.”
Chepulis said that now that SOM has succeeded in attracting more female applicants, the next step is to increase its yield rate.
“Part B of this will be trying to get the accepted students to come to Yale,” Chepulis said. “We want to reel them in.”