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The Scarcity of Female MBA Applicants

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Rachel Killian

on 10 April 2014

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Transcript of The Scarcity of Female MBA Applicants

Insights and guidance to help you reach, and appeal to, female candidates
The Scarcity of Female MBA Applicants
"I don't need it"
Research for my MBA dissertation

Drew on my own personal interest plus experience as an MBA marketing and admissions professional

Based on part-time / EMBA / DLMBA - some findings will be relevant to all programmes
To find out why women are under-represented and to establish ways to achieve a more equal gender balance
Overall Aim and Approach
The FT's top 100 EMBA programmes have an average of 25% female students

The European
programmes have
slightly less at 23.6%
51.2% of the EU population
46% of the EU workforce
Graduate from UG programmes in similar numbers to men
But very few women make it to senior positions
A recruitment tool in itself; some applicants will be more attracted to a School with a more equal balance of genders
Why is this important?
MBA is a route for women to increase human capital and improve career prospects
For companies - a more diverse Board improves organisational performance
Full of "competition, individualism, instrumentalism and exclusiveness"
Simpson,R. (2006) Masculinity and Management Education: Feminizing the MBA
Largely male faculty
Text books written mostly by men
Case studies that mostly feature men working in male-gendered industries
The MBA just isn't relevant to women's career routes
Motivations for study, the gendered nature of the MBA and whether women achieve equal outcomes
The timing of an MBA just doesn't fit with women's career patterns
Women lack social capital because of cultural norms
Women have a "double burden"

Women will study for an MBA at a point that suits their career path; this will vary according to each individual
Women don't fulfil their true potential in an MBA programme; they modify their behaviour to fit in with dominant norms and can be left feeling marginalised
My approach today
Going to ignore a lot of the School-specific stats;
instead, highlight general trends.

Results are from:

Survey with 170 women who fit the target market but had no MBA
Student diaries
Secondary research
believe the MBA would
impact on their career
"to a great extent".
< 20%
believed it would have no impact at all.
believe there are equal opportunities with regard to pay and promotion...
do not.
Only believe they would always receive the same financial rewards as a man.

This group was the most likely to be interested in an MBA.
Expectancy theory of motivation - women are more likely to invest in an MBA if they perceive they will be fairly rewarded.
Finance, government, consulting, energy, manufacturing consumer, IT and professional services
Leisure, education, media, healthcare, telecoms, transport, engineering, pharmaceuticals and NFP.
"I don't want it"
Women most likely to be interested in the MBA are those who feel "very strongly" about either profit making or delivering social value
Three most highly valued benefits are all intrinsic ones
Opportunity to learn new skills
The learning and education itself
Increased confidence
Only 12% of respondents valued more extrinsic benefits higher than intrinsic ones
Highest proportion of MBA prospects were in the group that valued both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits equally
"I can't fit it in"
Females more likely to have greater variability in ages - both younger and older
Greatest interest came from those with
no children
and those with non-dependent children
Over half of those in the challenge category are interested in the MBA compared to just 11% of the balance category
But greatest proportion of prospects are in "authenticity" category.
Similarity-attraction theory suggests male managers may be more likely to award funding to male employees who are less likely to take career breaks and have greater levels of social capital.
Sullivan,S. and L.Mainiero (2008) Using the Kaleidoscope Career Model to
Understand the Changing
Patterns of Women’s Careers
defined as the being true to oneself in the midst of the constant interplay between personal development and work and non-work issues
defined as making decisions so that the different aspects of one’s life, both work and non-work, form a coherent whole
defined as engaging in activities that permit the individual to demonstrate responsibility, control, and autonomy while learning and growing
Product Developments
Review of curriculum, culture and pedagogical methods used on the MBA
To what extent does your curriculum appeal to the "authenticity" parameter?
Should be included on high profile and rewarding projects
Help them to find a sponsor
Personalised support that allows for people in different phases of career
Can your careers services help female students to raise their social capital?
Pro-active development of soft skills, critical reflection on teamwork performance and review of the criteria and methods used to reward particular team behaviours.

How can you help ALL the class to develop EQ?
Integration of gender as a syndicate group criteria
Both genders perform better when teamed with at least one other person of the same gender.

So all groups need none, or a minimum of 2 women.
(Girard, 2011, Gender and Competition: What Companies Need to Know )
Formal process for collecting, recording and using information on gender KPIs
E.g. Withdrawals, distinction rates, teaching feedback scores etc.
Tracking representation of females in senior faculty roles as well as Board positions
Start classes at a time which allows students to drop off children in childcare first
Admission Policies that embrace non-standard career paths
(Including more time for personal development)
Don't just use different messages unless you have the appropriate admissions policy, culture and curriculum to genuinely support female students
Market Segments
Marketing Messages
sectors where the MBA is the norm but where women are in the minority

sectors where women dominate but the MBA is not the norm

women who do not have typical career patterns or history

women on career breaks
Intrinsic and extrinsic benefits

How the programme meets authenticity needs as well as challenge opportunities

Current messages about how the MBA will impact on your career are not believed!

Include a balance of social value / NFP projects and news in your messaging

Revisit the organisations that you feature in marketing materials; are they likely to be attractive to female candidates? Are they "female-friendly" organisations?

Be visible about being welcoming to younger or older female candidates

Feature "real models", not "role models" in your campaigns
Increase your scores in rankings
Increase the size of your classes
Reputation Advantages
For your school...
Interested in studying an MBA?
Industries where there is a belief the MBA will have a positive impact
Different Career Patterns
Female role models don't really exist; instead of "role models", we need "real models"
Do women expect to get the same ROI as men?
Are women more likely to be working in industries or roles where the MBA isn't as relevant?
(Horizontal segregation is widespread)
A "second-generation bias"
Starvish,M. (2012) Leadership Program for Women Targets Subtle Promotion Biases
Maybe women are more interested in "doing good" than making money?
Which type of benefits matter most?
Is the MBA the right environment for female students?
The MBA is inherently masculine; developed by men, for men - resulting in subconscious bias
Process Improvements
Working with sponsoring organisations to identify the "lost applicants"
Business Development
How many women just never ask for funding?
Commission your own research
Survey with females-with-no-MBA in your target markets

Student diaries

Enquirer and applicant data analysis

Analysis of female faculty and Board representation

Identifying areas of gender bias in teaching, assessment and performance

Development of gender-friendly marketing strategy
The advertising and marketing agency for the education sector.
Full transcript