MGSM Launches US$7M Fund to Tackle Gender Imbalance: MBA News |

MGSM Launches US$7M Fund to Tackle Gender Imbalance: MBA News

By Tim Dhoul

Updated Updated

Harvard Business School’s attempts to address its gender imbalance with measures described as ‘feminizing’ the MBA have been labeled well-intentioned but totally ineffective by the dean of Sydney’s Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM):

“Not only did the women not want to be part of such a program, which they felt reduced the value of their MBA, but Harvard also managed to disenfranchise the men.  The experiment was well meaning, but poorly thought out and an absolute failure,” MGSM dean, Alex Frino, writes in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Macquarie Graduate School of Management has just launched a new A$8 million (c. US$6.8M) MBA scholarship fund to support female students and reduce Australia’s gender imbalance at this level – where more than twice as many men as women study MBAs:

“To put this into perspective, there are 13,500 men but only 6,500 women enrolled in MBA programs at the moment,” Frino said of the 65 MBA programs available in Australia in a press release for Macquarie Graduate School of Management announcing the launch of the new initiative.

MGSM fund is about improving access

The move follows research conducted at MGSM which suggested the costs of an MBA were more of a barrier to female MBA enrollment. Their expected ROI (return on investment), for instance, was noted as being smaller - not only because of a well-documented gender pay gap, but also because women who make it into senior leadership positions are still rare. Accordingly, the research found that this downgrades the degree’s attractiveness as an investment in female eyes.

The new fund therefore comes with the hope that improving access to MBA study among women will lead to a reduction in the gender imbalance currently seen in the classroom.

Partnerships are way forward believes Macquarie Graduate School of Management

MGSM’s dean believes that partnerships, spanning across governmental bodies as well as companies and business schools are the way forward in addressing this gender imbalance. It’s a point that was also highlighted in a recent interview with GMAC on MBA applicants worldwide.

“This is the only way we will be able to make a real, long lasting and meaningful impact on the numbers of women completing MBAs and advancing into leadership roles down the track,” Frino says.

For this reason, half of the A$8 million announced by the school comes from employers. In this way, any financial contribution secured by a female student will be split equally between MGSM and a company or sponsor. Companies must also provide a mentor for each student in the program.

Frino says a quick take up among companies is, in itself, a strong sign of a desire to do more to change Australia’s gender imbalance in this regard:

“We went to market with this scholarship program just two weeks ago and the take up has been incredible with almost 25% of the available scholarships claimed by our first six partners,” MGSM’s dean said - those six partners include Philips, Qantas and Johnson & Johnson.

Complicated terrain in addressing MBA gender imbalance

The next intended step for Macquarie Graduate School of Management is to consider how to address another finding of its research into why women MBAs aren’t enrolling in high enough proportions – the issue of the time commitment involved for full-time MBA programs.

Supporting women with children and looking at subject flexibility and delivery modes of study are ideas the school is working with. However, to bring us back to where we started – with Harvard Business School – from whom research on HBS alumni published just last week suggests that preconceptions about who is and isn’t meant to be looking after the children is just one of a number of factors within modern day relationships that may also need looking into.   

This article was originally published in . It was last updated in

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