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Global Business Schools on the Path to Gender Parity in 2024


Gender disparities in corporate leadership and MBA programs have been long-standing issues. Fortune 500 CEOs are overwhelmingly male, corporate boards are predominantly male, and women often find themselves outnumbered in business schools. However, as we step into 2024, we witness an encouraging shift towards gender parity in full-time MBA programs both in the United States and across the globe.

In 2023, women’s enrolment in MBA programs reached a significant milestone, with a historic rate of 42%, according to recent research from the Forté Foundation. Furthermore, five leading business schools have successfully achieved gender parity, exemplifying this transformation. Among them are George Washington University (65%), Johns Hopkins University (51%), and the University of Pennsylvania (50%), which secured the third spot in Fortune’s Best MBA programs in 2023.

Elissa Sangster, CEO of the Forté Foundation, recognises a steady progress towards gender parity in MBA programs over the past five years. She underscores the critical role of the MBA as a pathway for women to access top corporate positions while advocating for equitable representation.

“With nearly half of women leading Fortune 500 companies holding MBA degrees, the significance of business education in empowering female leaders cannot be overstated.”

Forté Foundation’s Two-Decade Journey
For two decades, the Forté Foundation has been committed to expanding opportunities for women in business. Their mission includes nurturing a pipeline of female leaders and dispelling misconceptions about careers in business. Through collaborations with over 50 business schools, the foundation has witnessed remarkable increases in female MBA enrolment over the years.

In 2011, women made up only around 32% of MBA enrolees. However, the past decade has witnessed steady progress, moving consistently in the right direction. Volatility that characterised earlier years has now given way to a continuous march towards achieving a balanced 50-50 gender ratio.

Milestone Achieved
Currently, over 34 esteemed business schools report full-time MBA enrolment for women at or above 40%. These institutions include renowned names like Harvard Business School, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

International schools have also made significant strides, with a 3% increase in women’s enrolment in 2024. Notably, Oxford’s Saïd Business School boasts 51% female enrolment, while the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management achieved 49%.

Changing Priorities
Many business schools have adapted their approach to be more welcoming to women and people of colour through targeted recruitment and increased student involvement. Students play a pivotal role in influencing prospective students through admission committees and public events, fostering a more inclusive and inviting environment.

Diversity in the classroom enriches the learning experience and encourages a diversity of thought, a valuable asset in today’s business landscape. Furthermore, diversity and inclusion have become top priorities for many companies.

Sangster highlights the shift in marketing strategies by business schools. In the past, brochures often featured a white male on the cover. Today, schools are diversifying their marketing materials to better represent their student body and MBA programs.

Looking Beyond Business School
Beyond their focus on MBA programs, Forté Foundation aims to support women in advancing their leadership careers in the c-suite, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields like finance, technology, and supply chain management. The organization has initiated leadership conferences, summits, and an MBA Launch program to bridge the gender gap and raise awareness among schools, companies, and students. To date, Forté has awarded $400 million in scholarships to approximately 17,000 women pursuing MBAs.

As we step into 2024, the journey toward gender parity in MBA programs has made significant strides. With continued efforts from organizations like the Forté Foundation, business schools, and students themselves, achieving a 50-50 gender balance in MBA enrolment is well within reach in the near future. This progress not only empowers women in pursuing leadership roles but also fosters a more inclusive and diverse business community.

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