Australia’s Top Business Schools Join To Fight MBA Gender Imbalance

Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) Dean Alex Frino is driving the campaign to address the gender imbalance in Australian MBA programs
Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) Dean Alex Frino is driving the campaign to address the gender imbalance in Australian MBA programs

Five of Australia’s leading business schools have joined forces in a landmark partnership agreement designed to tackle the gender imbalance in MBA study.

The network of schools is committed to raising almost $20 million (in university and industry funds) to attract 320 new women into MBA programs over the next three years.

Curtin University, the University of South Australia, Monash Business School and Sydney Business School have combined with the Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) to deliver their Women in MBA program (WiMBA).

The program partners with business to identify top female employees and support them financially, logistically and by offering support and guidance to complete MBA study. This WiMBA Network will make the WIMBA program available to women in South Australia, Wollongong, Melbourne, Sydney and Western Australia for the first time.

Signing the Memorandum of Understanding on August 7 at the Australian Business Deans Council meeting on the Gold Coast, MGSM’s Director of Gender Inclusion, Professor Kristina Keneally said that the WiMBA Network is driven by a collective drive to achieve gender balance in MBA study.

“Studies show that a MBA has a significant impact on career pathways with graduates reporting a promotion, increased responsibilities and an increase in their salary package. However, in 2015, MBA degree enrolments are 30 – 35 per cent female, it’s just not good enough,” said Professor Keneally.

“Since MGSM introduced the WiMBA program almost 12 months ago, more than 40 women, sponsored by around 25 corporate partners have signed up to this program. However, MGSM is limited to a small geographical area and this network enables the program to spread nationally and provide more Australian women with an opportunity to advance their career through MBA study,” she said.

“We believe that by addressing the inequality at enrolment level we could have a real impact on the numbers of women working in senior management, executive ranks and on the boards of our leading companies,” said the Dean of MGSM, Professor Alex Frino.

About the WiMBA Program

Based on the findings of research conducted by MGSM which found that cost and time are the primary barriers to women completing MBA study, the WiMBA program encourages diversity in leadership by partnering with business to identify top female employees and supporting them through an MBA. It is driven by an internal sponsor – a key employee of the corporate partner – who nominates company employees on the basis that they are potential future leaders of the company.

Support from the employer takes three forms:

Financial – The WiMBA initiative offers scholarships to women to complete their MBA in a partnership with their employer. The network will match the contribution of the corporate partner dollar for dollar (up to 50 per cent). In order to qualify, the corporate partner must contribute a minimum of 15% of the tuition fee per nominated recipient.

Over the next three years, the network have committed to setting aside $8.55 million in fee waivers. Matched to industry funds, this raises a total of $17.1 million to attract 320 new women into MBA programs.

On-the-ground – the employer will provide logistical and practical support to enable the recipient to attend class, undertake additional study and group work and complete assignments.

Guidance and advice – the employer will pair recipients with in-house mentors/sponsors to provide them with guidance, support and advice throughout their MBA program and also in helping them to develop a post-MBA career pathway.

A MBA has a significant impact on career pathways and is particularly acute in driving middle-managers towards executive roles. The network aims to address the inequality at MBA enrolment level and impact the numbers of women working in senior management, executive ranks and on the boards of our leading companies.

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Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (rgcmm.com.au).