Women in Leadership and the MBA

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Sponsored by Newcastle University Business School

While the gender pay gap and opportunities for career progression continue to provide obstacles for women around the world, business schools are taking vital steps to ensure women are more empowered than ever before, and are given the support and encouragement needed to ensure they reach the top of their chosen profession.

We spoke to Newcastle University Business School to find out how their MBA program and Advancing Women in Leadership Scholarship is helping to challenge the status quo and get women ahead in leadership and management roles.

It's time for diversity in the workplace to be championed

Professor Sharon Mavin, Director of Newcastle University Business School, believes the status quo of women in leadership roles should be challenged and redefined. She said: “In my vision for the future for women in leadership roles, this hyper-visibility disappears. There are only leaders – not women leaders. The media positively profile women leaders alongside men leaders, recognizing their credibility and enabling young women, men and girls and boys to identify with successful, credible women, who lead in positions of power. In doing so, we are able to inspire the next generation of women and men into gender-inclusive leadership.”

Approaching the topic of women in leadership and management roles along with discussions of gender equality (or inequality) is a catch-22. But by documenting the skills and expertise that women can bring to such a job role, it should help change standards and expectations. Women naturally possess effective people skills which are increasingly sought after, including listening and communicating, while a research report in 2016 also found that women have higher emotional intelligence levels. This means their ability to empathize and be optimistic contributes to a well-rounded, healthy work environment, therefore demonstrating that women can, and do, bring a lot to the job table.

The fierce nature of the corporate world means that although the number of women in senior leadership roles in the UK rose slightly to 22 percent in 2018, the overall percentage of women in these roles remains considerably low. This is a serious problem, as it means executive business decisions are made without a woman’s view – an issue which some have been slow to appreciate. Women want to feel represented, but that won’t happen if organizations fail to admit there are genuine gender diversity issues within the workplace.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2017, women approximately made only 80 percent of men’s median hourly wages. Struggles in the gender pay gap along with difficulties with career progression are the infamous invisible barriers blocking women from thinking they aren’t good enough to step up to a leadership or management role. Instead, encouraging women to take up such leadership positions is something which should be actively promoted.

How an MBA can help women get to the top of the class (and career ladder)

The number of women enrolling in MBA programs is increasing at a rapid rate. In fact, the full-time MBA program at Newcastle University Business School has more women enrolled on the course than men (54 percent female, 46 percent male for the class of 2018). Supported by the Business School’s Director, Professor Sharon Mavin, the MBA program is dedicated to bringing education and gender equality into the 21st century. 

There’s almost no stone left unturned when it comes to what the MBA program offers. From world-leading academics, to its leadership series, Professor Sharon Mavin said: “Our values of diversity, inclusion, social justice and responsible management are embedded in the Newcastle University Business School MBA.

“Our world-leading academics who research and practice in the areas of diversity and gender equality engage directly with the MBA students. Developing leaders – women and men - who are not just gender aware, but includes all categories of social difference so they become leaders who shape a future of work which is inclusive and equitable for all.”

Laura Martinez graduated from Newcastle University Business School with an MBA in 2017. She told us how studying an MBA gave her the platform to help her pursue a career as a business manager at iGTB CEO office in London.

She said: “My MBA journey was hugely influenced by my fellow cohort members. We were a group of professionals from various fields and from 17 different nationalities, which presented an exposure to rich variations of cultures and experiences. From week one we were united as a team and that is how we stayed.”

While Taka Kpanja, a current MBA student at the Business School found that extracurricular events and activities helped her improve not just her knowledge of business, but her confidence. She said: “The leadership series I attend organised by the Business School frequently has helped to frame my mind positively and enhanced my leadership traits.”

The Advancing Women in Leadership Scholarship

2018 saw the 100-year anniversary of the first women being given the right to vote in the UK, and Newcastle University Business School also appointed their first woman director. There were also a number of activities and events throughout the summer of 2018 at the school where alumni were showcased and celebrated. 

“As a business school, we made the decision to celebrate these achievements by offering an MBA scholarship to an aspiring woman to support advancement in their career,” Professor Sharon Mavin said.

Taka Kpanja was also awarded the Women in Leadership Scholarship. She told us how the scholarship has helped not just her professional development, but also her personal development.

“As a woman of African descent, in my journey towards building a career path I have faced a lot of challenges and overcome many hurdles. I see first-hand young women like myself facing similar challenges. This places a responsibility on women leaders like me, who have overcome many hurdles in our careers to help emerging women scale the glass ceiling quicker and more smoothly.”

The Advancing Women in Leadership Scholarship awards one successful student £22,800 to help with tuition fees, where they’ll also receive direct mentoring from the Director of the Business School over the entirety of their MBA program.

Where to begin…

Laura Martinez also told us what attracted her to study the MBA at Newcastle University Business School: “I was ready to pay for a degree that stood out, and that was what Newcastle University Business School was able to offer me: triple accreditation, a small cohort size, financial incentives, a friendly student environment and my own personal MBA journey.”

The 12-month, full-time AMBA accredited course lets you customize your MBA. You’ll be taught by world-leading researchers and professors all while having the opportunity to fulfil your inner entrepreneurial vision and develop your leadership and managerial abilities by getting involved with real life businesses and organizations. So, whether you’re looking to make a positive change in your professional career, or you’re balancing a career with family and simply want to get back into the classroom, the MBA at Newcastle University Business School is ready for you.

Written by Stephanie Lukins

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