Today we are fortunate to see more women than ever pursuing MBAs and similar graduate-level business degrees to help reach their career goals. If you are a female student thinking about pursuing a master’s degree, or a woman in the workforce interested in new higher education opportunities, now is an excellent time to start making plans. Women’s MBA opportunities continue to grow. Here’s what that means for women in the business world.
The Rise of Women in Business
Interestingly, women tend to dominate in the majority of higher education fields, but MBA programs are a unique exception where men continue to outnumber women.
The reasons for this situation are varied. Traditionally, women have been more likely to focus on majors and degrees with lower-paying opportunities upon graduation. Other reasons involve business dynamics that are slow to change. For one, women continue to make significantly less in the business world than men. For another, business schools, in particular, have struggled with their reputations concerning misogyny, objectification, and other issues, meaning that women are less likely to have a positive view of business programs and related gender dynamics.
All this has led many programs to develop initiatives encouraging more women to pursue master’s degrees in business. It seems to be working—however slow, change is happening. Research shows the ratio of women in business schools increased from around 32% in 2011 to 39% in 2019. Globally, 60% of business schools in 2020 reported that they are receiving more applications from women than in previous years.
This changing business education landscape appears to mirror a shift in the business world. The latest reports from Fundera show that 40% of United States businesses are owned by women, and they are generating revenues in the trillions. In 2020, an average of 1821 net new businesses were started by women each day. Compared to 20 years ago, there are now 114% more active women entrepreneurs.
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Reasons More Women are Enrolling in MBA Programs
Broad trends certainly have a role in the growing numbers of women getting their MBAs and similar degrees. However, there are also several more specific trends within business schools that have led to it becoming an increasingly popular path for women interested in getting their master’s degrees.
1. Improved Recruiting Directed at Women
It’s no surprise that business schools are adept at looking for potential markets. Once explored, it wasn’t long before schools working on their strategies realized that the ratio of men to women students could be better. More and more schools began to shift their marketing and recruiting efforts to provide a greater focus on women, underlining the benefits that a more advanced degree could offer women in the workforce. This made it easier for women to search for and find higher education options.
2. More Favorable Outcomes for Women
Did you know the latest research shows that 87% of female graduates in business say their return on investment has been positive? And 84% say that their professional circumstances are better because of a degree from business school. In other words, these degrees get results out in the real, working world. For women who want to advance in their careers, earn higher incomes, and qualify for particular positions, an advanced business degree is often the best way to get there.
3. Expanded Programs and Class Options
Business schools have also been working on a broader array of programs and classes to help appeal to a new range of potential. This helps all students looking at a master’s degree in business, making it easier for female students to find a path forward in higher education that’s right for them.
One particular trend that’s really resonating with women is “pre-experience” master’s degree programs. These are programs that encouraging an unbroken journey from undergraduate classes to an MBA program for specific business specialties like accounting, finance, and management. While other master’s programs may require a certain amount of work experience, these programs don’t require female students to take any time off to find jobs. This is often combined with “deferred admission” programs where undergraduates can enroll in a particular MBA program while still working toward their bachelor’s degree in a related field.
4. More MBA Scholarships for Women
Part of the push for higher female recruitment in business schools has also led to an increase in scholarship opportunities for women. Some are new scholarships specifically focused on women, minorities, female business owners, and women in specific roles in the workforce. Others are more traditional scholarships that now have a new focus on accepting more women applicants. There are helpful websites focused on collecting MBA scholarships for women for easier research!
5. Women-Focused Organizations Within the School
There are also a growing number of organizations within schools that have set out to inform and empower female students regarding their options for pursuing higher education degrees in business. High school, undergraduate, and master’s program organizations can all help women find a career path that works for them while offering advice about specific careers and what to expect. These groups have excellent synergy with some of the other trends we mentioned, like helping women find scholarships or planning for pre-experience business programs while still in school.
6. Increased Push for Talent Diversity
Finally, we are also seeing growing efforts within the business world to open hiring and promotion options up to more women, something that research group PWC calls inclusive recruitment. These efforts have a number of different goals, but all are focused on improving outreach to women and removing appearances of bias when hiring that can affect a company’s reputation. This can also open up positions to a wider range of talent and deeper application pools, while helping companies meet internal diversity goals. It may be an uphill climb, but the business world is making an effort to fight gender imbalances in the workplace, and we are seeing the effects of that push today.
7. Women and MBA Concentrations
Not all women in the business world are interested in being entrepreneurs or starting their own businesses. MBA programs have a variety of concentrations that allow women to specialize in fields based on their own goals, from increasing their talents in a specific direction to qualifying for higher pay or better positions in industries that they enjoy.
According to GMAC data, a Master of Accounting was the most popular concentration for women, with 54% of applications coming from women in 2018. Next is a Master of Management degree program with an even ratio with 50% of applications coming from women. Third most popular was the Master of Finance program, which saw 43% of applications coming from women.
8. Groups That Can Help
There are also a number of national and regional organizations that exist to help increase awareness of women in business, push for more equality in the business world, and help women find the resources they need to succeed in business, including:
- The American Association of University Women (AAUW): One of the oldest organizations empowering women in higher education (active since 1881!), the AAUW fights for equality on many fronts, and offers a variety of seminars and training for college women interested in leadership positions—or making a difference wherever they are.
- Fortè Foundation: Fortè is a modern organization focused on helping women reach and succeed in leadership roles. It offers a variety of career prep and advice for undergraduate women considering their future education. It also provides Fortè Fellowship grants to women pursuing their MBAs. Like the other groups on our list, Fortè offers a variety of virtual programs that women can attend no matter where they are.
- The Sociètè: While not specifically focused on higher education, this group (a recruitment branch of the Boss Babe brand) helps to empower female entrepreneurs of all kinds, with materials to help teach women how to start their own business, effectively manage, and navigate today’s business world.
Finding the Right Career Path for You
Are you interested in earning an MBA or exploring available master’s programs, take a look at Post University’s MBA programs. Post’s MBAs are offered via both on-campus in Connecticut and online classes, and no GMAT is required to apply. Plus, Post offers a variety of concentrations for MBAs, including Entrepreneurship, Finance, Leadership, Marketing, Project Management, and Healthcare Systems Leadership.
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Please note jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries expected from any Post University program. To learn more about Post University’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions representative.