MBA teaching materials feature mostly men

MBA students mostly learn through case studies, but these case studies lack female leaders. Out of 53 cases held by the Case Centre, the world’s largest independent archive of management teaching materials, just seven featured female protagonists.

Business schools’ teaching materials still mainly focus on men according to an article in the Financial Times (FT). Lesley Symons, a student who was looking into a master’s degree course, analysed case studies and found that not only did few feature women, these were also typically placed in so called 'pink' sectors like fashion, homeware or food.

Case studies are an important part of an MBA student’s educational journey and provide the material for discussions in the classroom. Realising the lack of female leaders in teaching materials during her own studies Symons analysed 53 award-winning cases held by the Case Centre, the world’s largest independent archive of management teaching materials. She found that just seven contained females and that 46 out of 53 cases were written by a man as the lead writer.

The representation of women in MBA case studies can influence what students expect in their later jobs, Symons told the FT. “It has been shown in research that where women do not see themselves as leaders they tend to not put themselves forward for leader roles,” she told the paper.

Symons is now looking deeper into the matter and has entered a partnership with the Forté Foundation, an organisation that supports greater female participation in business education. The final goal in the process is to drive curricula change in business schools and convince them to feature more female executives in roles that have so far been dominated by men. 



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