MGSM puts MBA gender imbalance under the spotlight

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Macquarie University’s Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) has taken a stand against MBA gender imbalance, setting itself the goal of becoming the first business school ranked in the top 100* in the world to achieve gender equality in its MBA program.

MGSM launched its Women in MBAs (WiMBA) research initiative last week. The WiMBA project will examine the underlying reasons for the global gender imbalance in MBA programs and develop strategies to address it.

MGSM Dean Professor Alex Frino said statistics showed women outnumbered men at the undergraduate and pre-experience Masters levels, however in MBAs women were “absent”

“In fact, The Economist MBA rankings (2013) revealed that there was not one business school in the top 100 in the world where the number of women equaled the number of men,” Professor Frino said.

“Specifically in Australia, there were 20,000 students enrolled in MBA programs, of which 35 percent, or 7,000, were women and the other 13,000 were men. That means 6,000 women were ‘missing in action’ – we want to find where those women are and why they are not enrolling in MBAs,” said Professor Frino.

Professor Frino argues that achieving gender equity in MBAs could also contribute to improved numbers of women in executive and board ranks.

“Studies show that an MBA has a significant impact on career pathways with graduates reporting a promotion,  increased responsibilities and an increase in their salary package.”

“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.”

As part of the project, MGSM will survey women about the issues they face in enrolling and studying for an MBA, as well as their career pathways and experiences post-MBA.

“We are talking to current MBA students and potential students, about how the program is delivered, its structure, and the type and amount of support available. We want to know what needs to change,” said Professor Frino.

“For us to address this issue, both in Australia and overseas, business schools need to become smarter about how to create a better learning environment for women that attract them to MBA study,” said Professor Frino.

The research findings are due to be released at the end of 2014.

*The Economists ‘Which MBA’ survey.

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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).