Women, MBAs and Management

Women, MBAs and Management main image

As more businesswomen enter the MBA arena, management positions are slowly growing more accessible to them.

The potentially cutthroat nature of the business world has for many years seemed to caution women away from excelling in that male-dominated environment. Sprinkle on the common perceptions of a poor return on work/life balance in business, a lack of support networks for women and the desire to balance work with starting a family, and you may have a few valid reasons as to why women are so under-represented in senior management positions, especially at board level. But times are changing. According to research from the Chartered Management Institute, there were over 1.4million women managers in the UK last year (2006). Statistics from Online Women in Politics show that women's participation in managerial and administrative posts is around 33% in the developed world, 15% in Africa, and 13% in Asia and the Pacific. Meanwhile, stories of successful

MBA qualified businesswomen emerge so regularly now that, in the US and Europe at least, it barely creates a stir. That their MBA study and experience has helped them immensely is unequivocal. Research conducted by TopMBA.com, the organizers of the QS World MBA Tour, shows women are just as ambitious as men. 10-year goals hardly differ between the men and women surveyed.17% of women compared to 20% of men aim to be a Senior Manager or Director of a small company within 10 years of completing their MBA.

Laura Bouvier is Senior Vice President of the Information Business Consultancy arm of Marriott International, Inc. Having worked on Wall Street for a year, she received a clear message. "Wall St. is great, but you won't get anywhere without an MBA. Everything that was right about school happened to me at business school at Georgetown; I connected quickly to the local academic-business community and had a rich, total immersion MBA experience." However, taking time out to raise a family invariably affects a woman's career development. Regardless of whether or not she holds an MBA, she will find it close to impossible to reach the same career platform as men, even if she is employed within the higher paying sectors like Consulting. But Justine Jay Tang, a current MBA student, believes women actually have an advantage over men in the business world: "I actually find there are more opportunities nowadays for women to reach senior management positions, as many corporations are encouraging a good mix of diversity in the workplace. I believe if a professional working mother can maintain a good work-life balance, she enjoys an even greater advantage because companies value the emotional growth that a mother can bring to the business setting." It seems the benefits of having women in senior management positions reach the company as well as improving the gender gap argument. According to an article in the Financial Times on October 1 2007, "A study of the 500 largest US companies between 2001 and 2004 found that those with the highest percentage of female directors were more profitable and efficient than those with the lowest proportion of women board members." With leading international companies such as PepsiCo, Xerox, Ebay, Wellpoint and Kraft Foods being lead by women, the opportunities for other females to take up senior management positions are growing. And by this time next year, who knows - the USA may be lead by a female President? Watch this space!

Written by QS Blogger
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