Number of women studying for MBAs at universities rises as China and Japan pave the way for future female business executives

Group of leading US business schools also report a 10% rise in the number of female students studying for MBAs compared with last year

Aftab Ali
Wednesday 29 July 2015 14:05
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The traditionally male-dominated world of business education – particularly on Master of Business Administration (MBA) courses – is going through a major change as more and more women join the ranks – spear-headed by those in Asia, research shows.

A group of leading US business schools, last year, managed to increase the number of female students studying for MBAs by ten per cent, compared with a decade ago.

The University of North Carolina’s Bryan School of Business and Economics paved the way, here in the West, when it confirmed almost 66 per cent of women were representing its 2014-2015 MBA class.

This figure was followed very closely by Pennsylvania’s Palumbo Donahue School of Business (65.6 per cent), with Truman State University’s Master of Accountancy course coming in third with a class of 63.6 per cent women.

However, aside from progress being made in the West, it’s the women of Asia who are emerging to have the biggest appetite of all for business education.

To qualify for a place in business school, students have to sit and pass an official exam known as the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT).

While women make up 43 per cent of those sitting the GMAT across the world, in Central and South Asia, the organisation says in a report that females here account for a staggering 60 per cent of contenders.

China leads the way on the continent with an impressive 65 per cent of GMAT-sitters being women.

The MBA is an essential qualification for those who want to enter business and the female MBA students at China’s Fudan University School of Management – which consist of 59 per cent – look set to take the corporate world by storm.

Even Japan – which is known to have very few females in senior positions, such as commerce, industry, and government – is bucking-the-trend as the MBA programme in Tokyo, which is run by Canada’s Desautels Faculty of Management, is almost half female.

Dean of Rutgers Business School in New Jersey, Professor Lei Lei, became the first-ever woman to lead the school and told how, of the full-time MBA students who will be graduating from Rutgers in 2016, 51 per cent are women.

Ms Lei described the advantage women have over men when it comes to getting jobs in business and said that, because CEOs are typically male, more and more major corporations are now interested in recruiting future potential female leaders.

Speaking with U.S. News, the professor explained how there are special events for would-be businesswomen to receive mentoring from other women who are top executives at places such as Avon and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Describing how these types of events help draw more women to study for an MBA, the professor added they help the students to “build a strong belief in themselves, about their future, and their success in their careers because they see the role models come to the classroom to talk to them.”

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