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Megan Youngblood


What will it take to get more women on board?

July 20, 2016   //   Megan Youngblood

Did you know that only 17 percent of Fortune 500 board members are women? That number hasn’t budged in a decade. But according to Forté Foundation, a nonprofit that launches women into top-level business careers, the gender gap doesn’t start there. It starts in college.

What is your school doing to increase the number of women who apply and enroll to your institution?

By inspiring college women to pursue business careers much earlier in the pipeline, Forté is leading the charge to close the widely reported gender gaps in leadership.

Two years ago, Forté partnered with Zehno on a brand refresh to reach its goals of increasing B-school enrollment for women and paving the way for more women in management and leadership roles.

Mark your calendars for our webinar — 9/27

In June, Zehno’s Shane Shanks and Forté’s Mariska Morse presented the outcomes of Forté’s brand refresh to a packed room of admissions professionals at the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. They shared how Forté’s brand refresh identified and appealed to what women want most out of their careers.

If you missed it, don’t fret. We’re hosting a free webinar on this topic on September 27th, where you’ll learn how to make your brand connect more with women.

What your institution can do

Start with these four steps for encouraging college women to seek business as a career destination and get an MBA.


Point to the facts

To communicate the value of an MBA to women who may not be on the B-school track, you need to convey what it will mean for their futures.

According to Forté research, an MBA can provide both a ticket to the top and significant pay gains for women: it takes four years to recoup full ROI for an MBA, women experience a 55-percent pay gain within five years of graduation, 50 percent of Fortune 100 female CEOs have MBAs.

Pay raises are motivating, but women also need to see that business careers are challenging and meaningful. Many women don’t imagine business as the right fit, so you need to change their minds. Sell the B-school experience. Young women need to know that business isn’t all about number-crunching and living as a cubicle drone.

Show off team projects, consulting gigs, courses that push women outside their comfort zones and real examples of women using business thinking to solve problems. Show them how they can make great contributions to the world across many industries and functions. These experiences help women rethink their assumptions about business as they start to imagine themselves inhabiting these roles.


Push college women to take the GMAT before they graduate

Did you know the GMAT is the number one barrier keeping women from pursuing an MBA? Educate women on why it’s important to take the test now, when their test-taking skills are at their peak.

Women who take the GMAT in college often score higher than any other time in their lives. Even if college women aren’t ready to pursue an MBA right away, their scores are good for five years.

Plus during college, women usually have more control over their schedules and more time to study. Test taking becomes more stressful when women need to squeeze in study time with meeting the demands of a full-time job and possibly a family.


Create a male ally group on campus

Connect male students with female peers to encourage gender equity. Why? It’s better for the end game.

According to Forté — which recently launched a “Men as Allies” toolkit to help colleges start and manage male ally groups — men who champion gender equity help businesses, women, men and families win bigger. Businesses with more women leaders reap better financial results. Companies with greater female representation at the top experience a 53-percent higher return on equity, 42-percent higher return on sales and 66-percent higher return on invested capital. And women professionals raising children report very high life satisfaction.

Forte’s toolkit draws from the successes of established “manbassador” groups at B-schools nationwide such as Columbia, Duke and NYU. These groups leverage the college environment as a safe space for men and women to take on challenging and candid debates about gender, bias and privilege. Working out these issues now in college equips young men and women to make better decisions about their careers, families and employees in the future.


Recruit in industries where women gravitate

Getting more women into MBA programs means you need to partner with employers committed to hiring women into leadership roles. It also means making local connections with employers in industries where potential MBA women are concentrated: marketing, finance, consulting, accounting and human resources.

When it comes to gender equity, women still have a long way to go: Women working full time still earn 81 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to Catalyst, only 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 chief executives are women and only 17.3 percent of board directors in the U.K. are women, followed by even smaller numbers in the U.S., Germany, Canada, China and Japan (Forté Foundation).

That’s why Forté partners with employers like Citi, A.T. Kearney and Deloitte, which have all developed internal groups concentrated on advancing women in leadership roles, as it builds a pipeline of female MBAs.

And when it comes to recruiting, smart admissions offices work through professional organizations such as the American Marketing Association or the Society for Human Resource Management to locate MBA-caliber women.

Learn more

Speak with a strategist about how we can help you connect your brand with key audiences.


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