Half-way to Gender Balance
IESE Business School, Spain
The Spanish business school, IESE, part of the University of Navarra, ranks overall at number 12 in the 2009 Global MBA Ranking from The Financial Times. But similar to other top business schools including the IMD and London Business School, women make up only a quarter of its MBA intake. This has increased from a figure of 17% in 2004, says Elena Liquete, the newly appointed executive director of the MBA programme, but it is still very low.
Liquete was hired by IESE to launch its new global executive MBA. Before that she worked for the Cranfield School of Management in the UK. She did so well at launching the new part-time MBA programme that she was then given the task of launching another part-time executive MBA programme based at IESE’s Barcelona campus. Now, Liquete is in charge of the full-time MBA programme and hopes that eventually the gender balance of students will be fifty-fifty. “At the undergraduate level it is fifty-fifty,” she says, “so we should do what we can to increase the number of women attending the MBA.”
“My personal view is that companies often seem more willing to sponsor male candidates than female ones.”
One of the major barriers is financial, says Liquete. So, the school is starting to offer bursaries, or scholarships, to good female candidates which will cover the fees for the two-year course. There is another possible barrier, Liquete speculates. “My personal view is that companies often seem more willing to sponsor male candidates than female ones.” She is unsure as to why that might be the case, though suggests that some might believe that women could leave shortly after getting the MBA to look after their families. It is a big commitment to send candidates to the school for two years, so such factors could be influencing management decisions.
Liquete has also noticed that in the case of dual-career couples, it is usually the man who will apply to take the MBA. The average age of students on this programme is 27 and students have typically four years of work experience. As it is such a long course, many of them take the opportunity to switch careers, using the MBA as a launching pad into a new job.
The school has a long way to go to achieve a gender-balanced MBA programme but seems to be committed to getting there eventually.
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