December 6, 2022
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How Gender Parity Looks On Business School Campuses

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Last year, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania made history by enrolling more women than men in its 2023 MBA class. It was the first of the seven elite B-schools to have a class consisting of majority women. This year, Wharton repeated the feat.

Bloomberg recently examined gender parity among top-tier B-schools and explored what Wharton’s majority female MBA programs means for other schools.

REPRESENTATION IS IMPROVING

While B-schools still have a long way to go on reaching true gender parity, many have made an effort to improve over the years.

The Forte Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy and advancement organization, has been tracking gender parity among B-schools for years. When Forte first started, 28% of MBA classes in the US were comprised of women. Just last year, however, that rate grew to about 40% among the 56 schools that Forte tracks. Elissa Sangster, CEO of Forte Foundation, says the chances of being the only women on a team in an MBA program today is “very low.”

ALLYSHIP AND SUPPORT

One of the ways business schools are actively trying to improve the community amongst campus is through allyship and support groups. Wharton was one of the first top-ranked B-schools to add a male ally club. It also helps that in 2020 Wharton appointed the school’s first woman and first person of color, Erika James, to run the MBA program.

“I’m excited, and I do recognize the historic nature of it, and I’m humbled by the opportunity,” James said in 2020. “Frankly, I believe my gender is the least of what I have to offer. Because I’m a woman, I bring a perspective on decision-making and how I engage in the community.”

GENDER PAY GAP

While more women today are pursuing an MBA than years past, men with a business degree still earn more than women with the same credentials. According to a report by the Center on Education and the Workforce, while women had 43% of the master’s degrees among the study’s participants, they earned a median $75,600 a year, or less than the $90,000 for men. It’s a study that aligns with the 83% gender pay gap in the US.

“It’s daunting if you’re a woman to get an MBA and it’s frustrating when you get it and you make less than an equally qualified man,” Martin Van Der Werf, director of editorial and education policy at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, says. “That can dissuade people from pursuing these degrees.”

Sources: Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal

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