Graduate Management News
Data & Trends

Getting Women to Graduate Business School: A Global Perspective

As the number of women considering graduate business school grows, a deeper analysis of pipeline trends reveals some surprising drivers in the gains women are making in graduate business school.

The Graduate Management Admission Council reported that the number of GMAT tests taken by women surpassed 100,000 for the first time ever last year. The 104,880 exams taken by women in the testing year ending June 30, 2009, represented 39.5 percent of all exams taken, a figure that has changed only one percentage point in 10 years.

Yet behind the slight global increase are some major shifts by region, age, and career intent, notes Lamia Walker, GMAC regional director for Europe, Middle East and Asia. “When we break down gender distribution by regional citizenship, we find a wide range – from 56.1 percent of exams in Eastern Europe to just 24.6 percent in Central Asia,” she says.

Walker, the former director of the Centre for Women in Business at London Business School, is among the presenters at a GMAC webinar titled Women in the Business School Pipeline, to be held March 25 in recognition of International Women’s Day (March 8) and Women’s History Month in the United States.

The Women in the Business School Pipeline webinar will discuss data from numerous sources, including GMAT exam volumes and GMAC surveys of prospective students and alumni, to reveal who is in the pipeline, where they are, what they want and when, and why (or why not) they might pursue graduate management education. Aimed at providing insight on how business schools can appeal to and recruit women, the webinar will feature key findings from the new 2010 Registrants Survey Report of 22,111 prospective students, such as:

  • Schools have a shorter time frame to recruit women. The average woman first considers business school less than two years after finishing her undergraduate degree, almost nine months earlier than the average man. Once registered for the GMAT exam on, women also sit for the GMAT exam sooner than men. Test scores in hand, they then submit their first business school application more rapidly than male counterparts.
  • Women are likely to submit fewer applications. Prospective female b-school students considering two-year full-time MBA programs submitted an average of 2.4 applications compared with 3.0 for men. Women in Central Asia and in Asia Pacific submitted the greatest number of applications on average, 3.7 and 3.3 respectively.
  • Don’t write off the female quants. Female prospective students are more likely than men to consider MA/MS in Accounting programs, and the average number of submitted applications reported by women to any graduate management education program type is highest among those applying to MA/MS Finance programs (3.2 applications on average in 2009).

Walker will speak alongside GMAC’s Michelle Sparkman-Renz, associate director for research, and Sabrina White, member services specialist, as well as Elissa Sangster, executive director of the Forté Foundation, an organization that directs women toward business careers.

The Women in the Business School Pipeline webinar will be held at 11:30 am ET on Thursday, March 25; GMAT-using schools are invited to participate, and registration is free.

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