An In-Depth Look at the Forté Foundation for Women MBAs
According to Catalyst.org, women make up only 36.5 percent of MBAs earned in the United States. Even worse, a landmark study by the University of Michigan Business School revealed that women make up less than 17 percent of corporate board members in America’s 500 largest companies. The Forté Foundation is working to change those numbers. It’s a non-profit consortium dedicated to launching women into fulfilling, significant careers through access to business education, opportunities and a community of successful women leaders.
Fighting for Women in Business
“Business is a great career destination for women, and in everything that we do, we are trying to highlight all of the amazing opportunities and options that women have in pursuing a business career and a business education—getting their MBA,” says Elissa Sangster, executive director of Forté. “There’s no end to the different options women have in a business career because there are so many different directions they can go from being an entrepreneur to being in banking, marketing or even non-profit work. It is a great place to be, and it’s also a very rewarding place to be.”
What Does Forté Foundation Do for Women?
A quick look at the Forté Foundation website demonstrates the organization’s commitment to advancing businesswomen. Forté has provided $85 million in fellowships to 3,900 MBA women, thanks to its partnerships with more than 45 different MBA programs.
Beyond fellowships, Forté offers a wealth of information for members and for women MBA candidates who are interested in learning more about getting into an MBA program and making the most of their career.
There are a variety of unique opportunities for women. “The first general resource is to access the webinars available on getting an MBA,” says Sangster. “Those answer the general questions about why to get an MBA, what’s important for your career path and where to look for help post-MBA. There are panels, presentations and interviews with experts. For MBA candidates, there’s plenty to read and plenty to watch to help give you a broad overview of an MBA.”
However, the webinars are just a place to start. “The Forté Forums series is an excellent opportunity to look at specific MBA programs and how to get admitted,” continues Sangster. “You’ll hear from schools and from women who achieved their MBA to discover why it was valuable for them and what they’re doing now.” She also recommends taking a look at the blogs and MBA student profiles. Women, members or not, can discover pertinent MBA information, meet Forté members and learn how to advance their career and MBA application throughout the website.
For more detailed help, Forté offers the MBALaunch Program—discussed in detail on ClearAdmit. “The MBALaunch program is a curriculum that helps women really fine-tune their application. It helps them understand the true fit of a school so they can make a wise decision and prepares them for submitting their application,” Sangster shares. “It goes through the interview process, taking the GMAT and discusses all the things an MBA candidate needs to think about.”
Forté also provides valuable resources for women looking for financial help for their MBA. The Forté Fellows Program was created to help spur female MBA enrollment by offering fellowships for full-time, part-time and executive MBA programs. “The requirements to gain a Forté Fellowship vary between schools,” says Sangster. “If you want to know if you have a chance, look at the class profile of the program you want. If your criteria are above average, then you’re on the right track. They pick the top women in their applicant pool. The most important thing to do is to understand where you fit in that program’s profile.”
If you’re looking for information about women who get their MBA, what they look like and whether you could be one of them, Sangster recommends reading some of the profiles on the Forté website and understanding more about the Forté Fellows. “Our website contains Fellow profiles that reveal where they were working before, where they went to school, what kind of extra curricular experiences they might have had and what they did in their spare time. It’s a great way to understand more about what these women are doing.”
The Forté Foundation Sounds Great, but I Need some Hard Numbers
At the end of the day, it’s the accomplishments of the Forté Foundation that speak to its benefits for members. “This year, for the first time, we saw 36.2 percent of women enrolled in our Forté schools—it was 28 percent when I first started working at Forté,” says Sangster. “Embedded within that number is the fact that 17 of our schools have enrolled more than 35 percent women, and 12 of those schools are above 40 percent in women’s enrollment. Our schools are very committed to heading toward 40 percent women enrollment, and the schools that are already at 40 percent have not taken their eye off the 50 percent mark.”
Membership in the Forté Foundation is free. “Any woman is welcome to join the Forté Foundation,” says Sangster. “So much of our content applies to any woman, no matter what career path she is in. There are a lot of leadership webinars, articles and messages of empowerment that they can access through Forté. There is always something to learn, even if you’re not interested in business. For businesswomen, the content and opportunities are very relevant. You can connect with companies, find job postings and attend programs just for the Forté network.”