Women will comprise an unprecedented 45 percent of Wharton’s incoming MBA class of 2013, an increase from 40 percent of the past two classes.
The 45-percent figure is the highest Wharton has ever had. Harvard Business School, where women make up 39 percent of the incoming class, also admitted the highest number of women in its history.
“It’s a huge milestone for us and for our peers,” said Ankur Kumar, Wharton’s deputy director of MBA Admissions Kumar said. “Our efforts have helped change the game for them as well, which is fantastic.
“Three years ago, we had the initial watershed moment,” Kumar said, referring to the first time the school hit the 40 percent mark. “This year, it’s been game-changing again.”
Janet Hanson — founder and CEO of 85 Broads, a global network of 25,000 women — said that the increasing rates of female MBA students “has tremendously to do with the rapid growth of female entrepreneurship.”
She gave the example of Gilt Groupe, the wildly successful online retailer founded by two female HBS graduates and recently valued at about $1 billion.
“All of a sudden, you are seeing young women start businesses, particularly in the digital space,” she said.
Kumar gave credit to Wharton’s marketing efforts for the record-breaking rate of female enrollment. The figure was “a function of a lot of efforts to build awareness,” she said, and required “busting some of the stereotypes and myths.”
“One of these stereotypes is that women in business school feel both outnumbered and overshadowed,” Wharton Women in Business co-president and 2012 MBA candidate Sarah Fennell wrote in an email. “For many women, the decision to apply is dependent on dispelling this stereotype.”
For this reason, Fennell believes that Wharton’s marketing efforts to recruit women have proven effective.
“They communicate to prospective female students that Wharton has a community of other students with similar concerns and priorities and that the administration is focused on and supportive of this population,” she wrote.
However, recruiting and admitting women is just the beginning of the process, according to Hanson.
“It’s not so much admitting them. It’s what you do once they’re there,” she said. “Coming out of HBS and Wharton two years from now, will they be firing on all pistons? … Women are still due on corporate boards. They’re still the minority on Wall Street.”
But one place women may not be the minority for long is at Wharton. Hanson predicted that the school “could be at parity within a year or two.”Comments powered by Disqus
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