Steady rise in female business school applicants

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March 16, 2012

2:13 AM

As more women are entering the business world, the Mason School of Business has made a concerted effort to attract a greater amount of female students to its graduate business program.

According to a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education, women nationally make up approximately half of all medical and law schools students, but less than one third of students enrolled in graduate business schools. Yet in 2011, a record 41.1 percent of people taking the General Management Admissions Test were women. This slight increase has been matched by a nationwide increase in female students attending business schools.

“Usually when I’m on a team [within the business school], I’m the only girl,” Mason School of Business MBA Internal Vice President Laura Allen M.B.A. ’12 said. “But that hasn’t really hindered me from doing anything. Even though I’m part of the small percentage of women, the program is really good about including all different perspectives of genders, race and other minorities. So, I never really feel like a minority even though I am.”

Many graduate business school programs currently require a minimum of three years of coursework, but specialized one-year master programs offer recent college graduates immediate business education in a shorter time span. Such offers are becoming increasingly attractive for women, who make up 57 percent of applicants.

While the College’s business school does not offer a one-year masters of finance program, their one-year masters of accounting program attracts more female applicants than does the traditional three-year program.

“Not to stereotype, but the reality is that women are on a different timeline typically,” Mason School of Business Director of M.B.A. Admissions Amanda Barth said. “Especially international women, it is expected that they get their education at an earlier age because they have obligations back home.”

This domestic trend is even more prevalent internationally. International female students surpass their American counterparts in business education, representing up to 64 percent of students taking the GMAT, as opposed to the 39 percent in the United States.

“It’s a total environment change for me because in my previous work the gender ratio is more balanced, sometimes more female than male. I didn’t feel uncomfortable when I got here but it was a little strange that were so many men in the class,” Louise Sun M.B.A. ’12 said. “Sometimes I feel there is a difference in class discussion between the sexes.”

In addition, the College’s graduate business program works with two business school professional associations, the Forte Foundation and the National Association of Women MBAs, to attract women to graduate program.

“We try hard to counsel women through the process, make them feel welcome in our community and make sure they’re thriving,” Barth said. “We are trying really hard to get over our 30-percent marker.”

By recruiting female applicants at job fairs and facilitating programs for women already in the school, these two groups aim to make female M.B.A. candidates feel more at home in a historically masculine field.

“I know a lot of colleagues and fellow M.B.A.s participated in the NAWMBA events,” Allen said. “William and Mary does a very excellent job in bringing in speakers from large firms to talk about their experiences as a woman in the business world. It’s nice to have that support system.”

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Ariel Cohen

Senior Staff Writer Ariel Cohen '14 is a sociology major from Arlington, Va. She was previously Chief Staff Writer, News Editor, and Associate News Editor.