Can Online MBA Programs Help Gender Imbalance At Business Schools?
Ongoing diversity and inclusion at business schools, like many universities, has become absolutely paramount. But there’s no mistaking one singular aspect where business school’s tend to fall short: gender imbalance.
Financial Times reporter Sarah Murray explored the problem, looking at Online MBA programs as the potential solution. She notes that online programs are much better attracting at female applicants, which are usually lopsided by students that identify as male.
“At Warwick Business School in the UK, for example, women make up 24 percent of students on the full-time course and 22 percent on the Executive MBA, but account for 32 percent on the Distance Learning MBA. At Babson College in Massachusetts, US, women make up 40 per cent of the intake on the Blended Learning MBA—a program that is mostly online with face-to face elements—for the 2015-16 academic year. That compares with 34 percent for the school’s two-year full-time MBA.”
Through a mixture of data via the Financial Times and education marketing consulting firm CarringtonCrisp, Murray discovered that the flexibility and costs of an Online MBA may be the ultimate factors when allowing more women to enter the programs. For example, the data showed that 47 percent of women would consider one school over another because of costs, compared to 38 percent of men.
There’s also potential cultural boundaries causing the imbalance, says Julie Cogin, Director of the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales Business School. “MBAs have a reputation for being quite masculine in their orientation,” she says, with the aggressive nature of the environment acting as an aesthetic deterrent. “Some women are put off by that and feel an outside classroom environment might be more conducive.”
On top of increasing scholarships specifically designed for female applicants, many business schools have expanded networking events, such as the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and more recently the SC Johnson College of Business and Cornell Univeristy.
The gender imbalance issue likely won’t be fixed overnight, but there are positive signs ahead as business schools amplify flexibility and approach. Click here to read the rest of Murray’s Financial Times piece.