A new article in the Financial Times reports that the typical MBA classroom now has more women in it than ever before. The article cites a study by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which shows that women now make up about 37% of the student body at traditional full-time business schools in the U.S., up from 33% just five years ago.
And, this positive trend isn’t just happening in the U.S. — most top business schools in Europe also have attracted more women. INSEAD’s most recent graduating class, for example, was 34% women, up from 23% in 2000.
MBA admissions officers seem to agree that graduate business programs face one significant hurdle in attracting women, compared to other professional graduate programs: Most top business schools expect applicant to have at least several years of full-time work experience before applying. For some young women thinking of starting a family soon, the idea of needing to wait a few years before applying to grad school means that they may have to wait longer than they would like before having children.
This partly explains top business schools’ push to attract younger applicants, and early results at one school seem to suggest that these programs are in fact attracting more women: Approximately 50% of the students in the HBS 2+2 Program’s inaugural class are women, compared to the full-time MBA program’s Class of 2010, which is make up of 38% women.