By Jack Paciotti
For Unwind Magazine
Women earn the majority of the college degrees in all fields except business in the United States. In an effort to bring about change, the business school announced it will set a goal to achieve an average of 50 percent women enrollment in MBA programs by 2020.
Women represented 31 percent of students in 2013 and 32 percent of students in 2014, which is on the lower end of the North American average of between 30 and 40 percent according to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
“Schools need to push themselves more aggressively if any change is to really take place,” said Joyce Russell, senior associate dean of learning and leader of the Women’s Initiative Board at the business school. “We will never get people to consider women as leaders if we cannot get more women into business and moving up into higher levels of management.”
Russell said she is focusing on what she called the “three ‘P’ aspects;” pipeline, programming and placement. She wants to increase the flow of women into all MBA programs, create women-oriented programming and assist them as much as possible in being placed into organizations.
“This is a goal, not a quota,” Russell emphasized.
“The Smith School is working to make business school more attractive for women through scholarships, fellowships, women-only information sessions, and more flexible program offerings,” according to program’s announcement. “The Smith School will ramp up its Women’s Alumni Network, creating new mentorship and career coaching opportunities.”
Russell added the alumnae have been providing information to help current students succeed.
The business school has been male dominated for its entire existence. The school’s website boasts only two women graduates — Carly Fiorina and Beatriz Perez — out of the nine people listed in the notable alumni section of their webpage.
This does not surprise Meghan Kane, a sophomore operations management major at the business school.
“You don’t ever hear about female alumni,” Kane said.
She went on to say that in her time at the school, she has only had one female professor.
Despite its male-dominated past, the business school plans to turn things around and start a new trend.
“Many business schools talk about their commitment to women,” Dean Alexander Triantis said in the announcement of the program. “Now it is time to deliver results. Working together with public, private and social sector organizations, we will do what it takes to attract and advance more women in business careers.”
In 2014, the business school partnered with the Forté Foundation to help advance businesswomen in the school. The Forté Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing women in the business world.
The school has set the goal in 2020 to coincide with the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote.