As the School of Management strives to stake a reputation as one of the leading business schools in the world, recent recruitment efforts have brought record numbers of women to campus.
All three degrees offered by the SOM — the MBA, Master of Advanced Management and Executive MBA — saw record numbers of women matriculate this fall. Two degree programs also saw significant jumps in their female populations from 2014 to 2015. Female enrollment in the MAM jumped from 26 percent to 39 percent of the entering class, and female enrollment in the EMBA jumped from 23 percent to 41 percent. These numbers also cast the SOM as far ahead of their global peer institutions in terms of female enrollment, according to data collected by The Financial Times.
SOM administrators and admissions directors credited the increases to the business school’s growing attractiveness among top candidates, as well as to outreach efforts specifically targeted at female applicants.
“Clearly SOM is on the move,” said SOM Associate Dean David Bach. “When your application volume grows, your ability to focus your recruiting efforts in a way that boosts diversity is greater.”
Bach added that compared to the SOM’s peer institutions both domestically and worldwide, the SOM is one of the few that can claim an EMBA program that tops 40 percent women. According to data collected by The Financial Times on the world’s leading business schools in 2014, fewer than 10 of the top 100 had higher percentages of women than the SOM does now. Most that did, moreover, are in China or France. At the time of the data collection, the SOM’s EMBA program could not be considered due to its small size, leaving Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business with the highest percentage among American schools at 37 percent.
Putting female applicants in touch with alumnae helps address questions that go beyond those male applicants might ask, Bach said, adding that the SOM also participates in broader efforts like a White House initiative to increase the percentages of women at top business schools. Melissa Fogerty, deputy director for admissions, said that bringing in female faculty members and alumnae events also increases the exposure students get to successful female leaders.
Fogerty noted that it is rare to find a 50–50 balance between men and women among leading business schools.
“As much as we would like to see that, that’s not the reality of the full MBA market right now,” she said.
Fogerty added that the MBA program’s 25-percent jump in applications last year has helped increase the caliber of female students brought in to the SOM.
Valerie Belanger, director of the MAM, said she makes a concerted effort to address questions that may specifically concern female applicants during her various recruitment trips and engagements with prospective students. Whether they are questions concerning applicants’ spouses or children, Belanger said it can be helpful to have a woman on the ground recruiting.
Belanger added that it can be particularly challenging to recruit women for the MAM — a one-year program for Global Network MBA graduates — because she is recruiting from an applicant pool that is male-dominated.
“Across the board the percentage of women in business schools is around 30 percent or less of the student population,” she said, “so we face an added challenge in recruiting women for the MAM, as our students are drawn from the post-MBA population.”
Laura Fletcher SOM ’16 and Margarita Nachevnik SOM ’16, co-leaders of the group Women in Management, said that beyond creating strong female bonds within SOM, there must be some attention put towards engaging male allies. Fletcher added that there is no way to change the culture of a school within engaging all members of the community.
“Even once we increase the number of women period, how are we increasing the number of women of color, LGBT women, transgender women?” Fletcher said. “We’ve been trying to work more closely this year with other advocacy groups because there are so many intersections.”
D’Andre Carr SOM ’16 said the SOM does foster an environment that is politically and socially progressive, which may draw more underrepresented groups like women. Carr said that if business schools in general want to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups, business schools need to start engaging students at the undergraduate level.
A total of 462 students matriculated at SOM for the 2015–16 academic year.