It’s a great time to be a woman in business. According to a report by the Forté Foundation, the percentage of women enrolled in full-time MBA programs has been steadily increasing over the past few years. In 2011, women represented only one-third of all MBA students. Now, at top MBA programs across the country, such as Tuck, Booth, Haas, HBS, Kellogg and Yale, the percentage of women enrolled as MBA students is 40% or higher.
With research reports and investigation stories on the issues of gender parity in the workplace, and the underlying factors behind traditionally male-dominated spaces in business (C-suites, corporate boards, private equity, etc.), business schools have become increasingly interested and invested in creating more spaces for female MBA candidates. As such there exist a plethora of resources and information that empower qualified female MBA candidates to make their mark in the business world through access to education.
In this two-part series, we explore ways female candidates can take advantage of the resources available to help secure your spot in a top-notch MBA program.
Tip 1: Take advantage of business school events catered to women
In hopes of attracting more talented female candidates, business schools across the country hold “Women in Business” conferences. The names vary, as do the speakers and programming, but the mission is the same: invite qualified female MBA candidates, create interest in the school, get women to apply. Several of these conferences have an opportunity for interested parties to speak and interview with admissions representatives, as well as attend classes, sample the curriculum, and meet current students as well as other prospective students. Check out some past and upcoming Women in Business Events below:
Typically, these events are jam-packed with a variety of sessions, workshops, panels and events. How can you ensure that you make the most of the conference without overwhelming yourself?
Do some research beforehand! If you’re interested in attending a conference at a school, look up information on the school’s faculty, the keynote speakers of the events, the types of panels and workshops that will be available, as well as the times of admissions interviews (if they are offered).
Choose your own adventure….beforehand. In order to maximize your experience, prioritize the sessions and workshops that most appeal to you and what you’re looking to get out of the conference. It’s good to be flexible, however, having a plan will help to guard against over-committing yourself and feeling overwhelmed.
Network like a #GirlBoss. Have your business cards ready, as well as a 90 second elevator pitch about who you are, what you do and if applicable, what you desire to get out of business school. A succinct, verbal personal statement, if you will. You never know who you might meet at these events, so being able to present yourself in a clear and memorable manner is important.
Talk to current students! If you’re curious about a school’s culture and friendliness towards women, what better way to get a sense of that than to talk to students who are actually in the program? Be sure to talk to a variety of women across fields, not just your own field of interest. Also get as many perspectives as you can about the school and its resources.
Follow through! With every person (OF INTEREST AND VALUE, as defined by you) that you speak to, be sure to send a thank you note and include a desire to continue the conversation, without sounding like an opportunist. If you come across information that may be helpful to them, be sure to pass it along. Seek to be helpful, before being helped.
Reach out to Women in Business associations on campus outside of flagship conferences
Can’t make it to a major Women in Business conference at the school of your dreams? No problem! It will take some initiative on your part, but many Women in Business associations offer tours and visits to prospective students. In addition, they offer programs throughout the year to give female MBA applicants a taste of school culture as well as opportunity. Be sure to reach out to the Women in Business association of the schools you’re interested in and schedule a visit. You can also arrange to talk with current female students.
Look within your organization to find resources for women in your field interested in applying to business school.
Certain companies have a strong culture (or are working on it) of supporting women who desire to move ahead in business through acquiring an MBA. They may offer seminars, workshops and conferences to encourage female employees to consider pursuing an MBA. If your company is such a company, utilize their resources! One example of corporate sponsored events for prospective female MBA candidates is the ExperienceBain Women’s Summit. Check to see if your company has events specifically tailored to women interested in pursuing an MBA. Alternatively, you can get connected to the women’s affinity group in your organization. Chances are, the networks will be quite strong, such that even if you don’t have someone in your cohort who is a prospective MBA candidate, you will have someone in a previous cohort who has gone before you and can provide some insight, wisdom and advice.
In part two of this series, you’ll become acquainted with more formalized, structured programs that provide support for female MBA candidates.
Contact us today to find out how we can help put together a compelling MBA application to the school of your dreams.