What Women Want Addressing the gender imbalance on MBA programmes

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1 What Women Want Addressing the gender imbalance on MBA programmes 1

2 Introduction JWT Education undertook an international market research project addressing female participation in MBA programmes. The project emerged from concerns that less women are undertaking MBA study than men. The Association of MBA s agreed to sponsor the research 2

3 Methodology/ Sample We conducted focus groups involving just under 100 current female MBA students from 14 business schools in the UK, Continental Europe, the U.S and Australia A wide range of ranked business schools Participants represented more than 30 nationalities were from a variety of professional background ages ranged from with roughly half between 25 and 31 some single, some with partners most were self funded Consolidated findings 3

4 Research Findings 4

5 Predominant Reasons for Undertaking an MBA To pursue a career or industry change MBA considered to give the opportunity for a new direction Personal development Career development or enhancement and to bolster promotional prospects; believing that an MBA would: Increase marketability to different sectors Be necessary to work in senior management Be a way to screen people It was considered the right time to do so: To fit within family planning not leaving it too late for family options, because their children were old enough It s now or never It made sense to get it out of the way now I didn t want to get to 45 and look back and think I wish I d done an MBA. 5

6 Reasons why People Study an MBA Men vs. Women Women believe men choose to study an MBA because: they want to get good marks, they re competitive; they just want the MBA on their CV, for the piece of paper ; they want the money they study for financial reasons only; they choose schools that are higher in the rankings guys go through the motions of getting the MBA badge for men it s a nice to have on their CV Women were seen to study an MBA for: financial reasons but also for personal reasons; personal development; career switching; to progress, to gain respect, to prove they can do it; to boost a woman s confidence in the business world; they want the degree but they want to do it well and feel like they have earned it 6

7 Key Factors Impacting the Timing of Undertaking an MBA Once again the notion of the right timing was mentioned by many respondents as to why they chose to undertake an MBA at this point in their life. They d sufficient work experience by that stage of their life I wanted to go to school with people who were about the same age as me, which is why I did not come earlier or later They were at the point of now or never They were able to do an MBA through a company work program and a scholarship at that time 7

8 Key Factors Impacting the Timing of Undertaking an MBA Considerations for family planning you hear a lot of women doing the reverse math. What age do I want to be when I have children? How many years after the MBA program will I need to be paying my dues, and really working hard to get where I want to be I ve had people say to me tick, tick, tick! I want to have kids and I don t want to be paying back my loan forever, so I don t want to be doing this course when I am 30 If we wait too long we ll get married, have children and have a career. It would be too much to juggle all of that. It s always a factor for women, especially at our age, that if you want to have children you have to take that into consideration because obviously you leave the workforce for that as well it is a bit of a concern. 8

9 Key Factors Impacting the Timing of Undertaking an MBA This appeared not the case for the Russian and South African participants, who for the most part waited until they had children before starting an MBA I have a family now and its my responsibility to provide for them so I am doing an MBA 9

10 Key Factors Impacting the Timing of Undertaking an MBA Pursuit of a career change Undertaking an MBA was financially viable at this time Were bored at work Wanted a challenge Desire to attend international school/for an international career An MBA was becoming more desirable and prevalent in their industry Personal development Not tied down, had no children and felt comfortable with their education, and wanted to learn about business 10

11 Women s Decision- Making Processes Once decided most women moved on to school selection and assessed prospective schools against a range of criteria: Most importantly was the school s ranking for example the Financial Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week and US News. Location Cost Internationalisation (of program and student body) Length of program with preferences for shorter programs The school s culture Program flexibility (including course offerings, timetabling, ability to undertake double degrees) 11

12 Women s Decision- Making Processes Others examined the schools : Diversity Academic performance Staffing- female Dean Credibility/image/branding and the value of the qualification Accreditation/international recognition You have to be able to take your degree with you if you re going to travel globally Career placements office and contacts in the business community I want to be confident that after the course I won t be standing there looking for a job Personalities of the faculty and administration Student/teacher interaction 12

13 Factors that Discouraged Women from studying an MBA The major factor appearing to discourage participants from studying an MBA was lack of support from family/partner: go out and earn money instead of spending it A mother could not understand the desire to do an MBA rather than getting married and having children why bother? You ve already got one. The whole issue of perceived value: would it be worth the time/financial investment The initial experience with the schools: including politeness of school staff and general attitude 13

14 Factors that Encouraged Women to study an MBA The major factor that encouraged participants to undertake an MBA: Family and friends Partners a large number of participants had partners who had either undertaken an MBA or were studying for an MBA I want to get on par with my partner Female deans and female faculty Other encouraging factors included: Support from their workplace Their school s introductory sessions, welcome, professional service, female representation on the website and faculty The fact that they had no children if they did, they wouldn t have done an MBA Financial assistance The popularity of the degree A desire to go abroad, travel, live overseas 14

15 Sources Used to first Identify Potential Schools for MBA The most common source was the Internet/websites/search engines Rankings (FT) Media Financial Times The Economist Business Week The Wall Street Journal Word of mouth/recommendations from alumni, friends, work colleagues, industry professionals Agents/MBA consultants 15

16 Factors Influencing the Decision on Where to Study Accreditation and credibility Culture Handling of the application or research process a welcoming approach, helpfulness, assistance in answering questions Alumni networks Post-MBA support Female student ratio Facilities Although participants were asked to comment specifically about services such as childcare facilities, support networks, strong female network, distance learning opportunities and flexible study hours none of these factors leapt out as being critical 16

17 Length of the Decision- Making Process Over a third of participants had a relatively short decision-making of up to six months I just went for it The rest ranged from nine months to seven years: 17

18 Imbalance of Genders Undertaking MBAs Participants were generally aware that less women study MBAs than men. Common explanations for this occurrence included: Expectations in some cultures that women settle down and have families, and look to men to provide It is expected culturally that men will undertake leadership roles in our community, and therefore they undertake MBAs In Japan its not the expected route Women, in general, have a lower confidence level than men especially working mothers returning to the workforce Women feel family/biological pressures Lack of perceived career opportunities 18

19 Why is there a gender imbalance on MBA programs? Other reasons for the gender imbalance: Financial factors women earn less money which makes it more difficult to study; there were also reports of lack of scholarships and employer funding for women - Business schools do not target women in college A choice by some women not to attend business school and then feeling its too late by the time they are in their late 20 s early 30 s There are more male managers than female managers A lack of strong role models, or opportunities for women after they graduate Lack of encouragement 19

20 Why is there a gender imbalance on MBA programs? Social reasons including: they don t want to be seen as trying to find a man there guys don t want a girl who earns more than them or has more qualifications than them Women are more reluctant to up-root themselves [than men] it is more socially acceptable for a woman to relocate for her partner who gets a place at a business school (than a man to do so) Lack of ambition If they re in their 30s and have a job in middle management and a family, that s enough, they feel they have enough 20

21 Is the Gender Imbalance an Issue? There were mixed opinions about the gender imbalance with some participants stating there should be more women in MBA programs while others were happy with the current ratio: Some thought they would be better off in a school with a higher percentage of women Several did not seek higher or high representation of women I like to be rare goods Others suggested a 50/50 mix would be ideal The worst thing you can do is lower the standard for women and exacerbate the stereotype that might exist amongst men around here who think that women are not as smart and capable 21

22 Does the Gender Imbalance Impact Study/ Participation Some women said it did have an impact on their study environment: Men are noisier and more competitive The men comment on the appearance of the female lecturers and are less likely to listen to them Men are experts in quantities subjects and women are better in marketing and communication Certain male tutors will ignore points if a woman raises them, but if a man does, they listen to [him] and its suddenly a great idea. So even within the course women are being discriminated against. Women are more organised; tend to take on more of the responsibility on the team, and men expect that from the women 22

23 What Would Make an MBA More Appealing Having more female role models in the lecturing staff Having an abundance of female role models would be really helpful. If you know that a school has 5/6 great women professors that care about the numbers and are willing to stand up and pound the table for women s issues, then I think that would speak volumes. You don t see that a lot. Having successful women as role models I wouldn t do an MBA if it wouldn t make any difference Promoting female MBA alumni success stories Offering scholarships just for women to as finances are a big issue, [women] don t earn as much as men to fund it More female oriented case studies/content Ensuring they understand that just because you are getting an MBA doesn t mean you re going into Finance. People who have no idea about an MBA think I don t want to work on Wall Street. I don t want the long hours. 23

24 What Would Make an MBA More Appealing Encouraging an active alumni organisation Targeting organisations to demonstrate how an MBA can assist their female employees, targeting women in corporations & hosting seminars Offering childcare facilities on site More flexibility in timetabling, exam and core subject scheduling Offering a shorter program length Having less discriminating lecturers the classroom can also be male dominated Offering more pastoral support, mentoring, highlighting supportive associations for women - e.g. Women in Business networks, alumni networks, women support groups Planting the seeds early e.g. reaching women at their UG institution 24

25 Thank You 25

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