Women are underrepresented in business schools and this inequality continues to grow as women progress through academia, according to a new study from the Women in Management club at the Yale School of Management.
The study was conducted among 19 of the 29 member schools in the Global Network for Advanced Management, an international partnership of business schools of which the SOM is a founding member. Over a roughly two-week span, Women in Management co-presidents Natania Gazek SOM ’17 and Christina Clementi SOM ’17 distributed a survey throughout the network with questions about gender equity and representation.
“There is a funnel effect, as there is in most professions, where as women get older, they drop out of the workforce,” Gazek said. “There is a higher percentage of women in pre-MBA programs, and that falls off until you have a really dismal percentage of tenured female faculty, which is essentially the end point.”
Gazek said this funneling trend of female business students was mostly consistent among all schools surveyed, which are located in 19 countries.
She added that the motive for the survey was to gather statistics about the degree of the inequality in a quantitative sense, as well as to obtain qualitative information about what the schools are doing to address the problem.
Gazek said she sees room for gender equity progress at SOM, but that the trend found in her club’s study is more of a structural than school-specific problem.
“There are structural issues that are much bigger than the school,” Gazek said. “SOM is committed to making sure that women are better represented across all roles within this building and I think we — just like many institutions in the U.S. and across the world — are struggling with what does it look like to get there.”
The problem of gender inequality highlighted in the study is not limited to the business world. At Yale Law School, another student group, Yale Law Women, examines gender disparities in the legal profession.
Rachel Chung LAW ’18, chair of Yale Law Women, said that while the Law School has a nearly even male to female students ratio — 48 percent of the class of 2019 are women — female representation in executive legal positions is still lacking.
“We see something in the legal profession that is probably similar to what they’ve been seeing at the School of Management,” Chung said. “Looking at big law firms where there’s an easily tracked progression, as you get higher in the ranks, there are fewer and fewer women.”
Chung cited two explanations for this trend: women leaving the workforce when they choose to start families, as well as a perception among existing leaders that women are less committed and less likely to be successful than men.
Echoing Chung’s statement, Hannah Webb SOM ’19 said there is pressure on women to leave the workplace after starting a family and noted that it is difficult for women to break into leadership positions currently dominated by men.
Still, Webb added that firms are starting to acknowledge this problem.
“I think [female underrepresentation] is much less intentional than it used to be,” Webb said. “It’s definitely an issue firms recognize.”
Forty-three percent of the School of Management’s class of 2018 is female.