Business School Applications From Women On The Rise

Business School Applications From Women On The Rise


A recent report from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) highlights the growth in female applicants for a range of business school programmes. The survey takes a look at a range of Master’s degrees including the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Finance, Master in Management and the Master of Accounting, comparing the 2011 results with the 2015 results to observe growth rates. According to GMAC, “The proportion of women who represented in the applicant pools for all programs has grown since 2011, with the lone exception of the Master of Accounting, which maintained its female majority of 57 percent”. This trend is seen in Figure 1 below, with growth of at least 3 percent observed in each of the different MBA options.

Women and the MBA

Figure 1: Representation of Women in the Graduate Management Education Applicant Pool, by Program Type, 2011 vs. 2015.  Source: GMAC 2015 Applications Trends Survey Report

The 2015 GMAC Application Trends Survey tracked responses from 426 MBA programs, and highlighted that women made up the majority of applicants in three business school programs – the Master in Marketing and Communications (62%), Master of Accounting (57%), and Master in Management (55%).  Regionally, 60 percent of the business schools located in the Asia-Pacific region reported growing application volume for women for the MBA. When we consider tertiary education in general, America’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that since 1995, postsecondary degree attainment rates have increased more rapidly for females than males. In 2014, 37 percent of women earned bachelor’s degrees in America in comparison with 31 percent of men. It’s therefore no surprise that business school applications from women are on the rise, but it does ask the question as to why this is the case.

GMAC attributes the growth in part due to “business schools’ targeted outreach efforts aimed at attracting talented women candidates”. According to the report, 67 percent of full-time two-year MBA programmes, 51 percent of executive MBA programmes and 41 percent of part-time MBA progammes employed such initiatives. Specialised outreach is said to frequently target undergraduate students, military personnel and women for the MBA, and it’s clear this effort is paying off when observing the rest of the results in the 2015 report.

Another key reason for the growth in business school applications from women is the Alumni’s overall satisfaction with their business school experience. GMAC states, “Our latest study of graduate business school alumni found that the vast majority of women (96%) rate their degree as good to outstanding value, and they say the degree was personally, professionally and financially rewarding”. Word-of-mouth is essential when it comes to the popularity of products, so with such high satisfaction rates it’s likely that this has played a big part. In addition, “women tend to receive an initial boost between pre-degree and post-degree salary that is similar to men” – a median figure of USD $20,000 (approximately AUD $26,000). The difference in salary boosts that still exists is attributed to lower pre-MBA salaries, rather than then fact that employers don’t value the qualification equally.

What do you think?

It’s clear there’s an upward trend of women attending business school, but I’m keen to hear what you think of it all. Do you believe there is still a significant gender gap, or are you pleased with recent growth?

This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.  The following sources were used to compile this article: NCES, GMAC, and Fortune

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