Penn students can now join a new club that hopes to achieve gender balance through consulting.
Wharton sophomores Becca Bean and Sarina Divan have founded Gender Balance Consulting, the first club of its kind at the University of Pennsylvania to focus on gender in the pre-professional sphere. GBC will analyze gender breakdowns in organizations both on and off campus and then help improve groups' financial performance and innovation by promoting gender equity.
Bean, who is also in the College, said the club will investigate how much of a gender imbalance exists in clubs on campus. "Our goal is to be able to quantify these discrepancies so that we can better understand them," she said. "Being able to provide this diagnostic of where our campus is at will be a huge step in change."
The club will include an internal consulting team that will analyze the gender balance of Penn’s clubs, and an external consulting team that will work with companies in Philadelphia and beyond. GBC plans to first examine Penn’s student government and Wharton clubs. They intend to use a diagnostic method called Gender Jaws — a process that helps to demonstrate the gender ratio for men and women at different job levels.
Bean cited the recent example of College and Wharton sophomore Lizzie Youshaei's campaign for the Class of 2021 presidency. Youshaei's campaign highlighted that in the past 40 class presidents elected at Penn, only six have been women.
GBC also hopes to bring change by offering specific solutions to student organizations and administrators on how to achieve gender balance. These will include ways to target structural issues such as recruitment, promotion, and retention of female employees, Divan said.
“It’s not the fault of women that there’s gender inequality in the workplace, and women shouldn’t be the ones that are putting in the extra effort in addition to their work,” Bean said.
Bean and Divan are looking to recruit students of all genders who have a passion for gender equality and a willingness to learn. While they hope to include more male students among their leadership, they said they observed a noticeable lack of interest from male students during the Students Activities Council fair.
They also emphasized that it is not necessary to be in Wharton or have consulting experience to join. The application, which closes in October, includes three questions and a short interview.
The inspiration behind GBC started with Bean and Divan’s high school experiences with Girl Up, an initiative founded by the United Nations Foundation to promote female leadership. The two students became Girl Up Teen Advisors, acting as ambassadors for their high schools, and later met in-person for one of the meetings in the summer of 2016. They heard from prominent female activists and led projects that involved lobbying politicians and fundraising.
After reuniting at Penn as residents of Kings Court English College House and later joining the Alpha Phi sorority, Bean and Divan begin to discuss the idea for a gender-based consulting club.
Wharton junior Dana Sargent said she is interested in GBC.
“I feel like a lot of consulting clubs are very formal and established, and I thought that a new one, especially with a social mission, would be a better culture,” said Sargent, who worked to recruit female students to her robotics teams when she was in high school.
Wharton freshman Rania Zakaria said she is also interested in the club because of its overarching mission.
“It’s important for women to hold positions of power in the business industry, because it is a largely white, male-dominated industry," Zakaria said. "There’s no reason that women shouldn’t be part of it."