New survey shows increase in female MBA enrolment

Female enrolment in full-time MBA programmes grew to 38 per cent this year. This news comes from 52 business schools that are members of the Forté Foundation. The increase can be linked to an increased effort to recruit women.


Female enrolment in full-time MBA programmes is on the rise according to the Forté Foundation. The Texas-based non-profit organisation that works with industry, education institutions and others to encourage women to pursue leadership positions in business has surveyed its 52 business school members which are based in the United States, Canada and Europe. The outcome was encouraging. The study found that the percentages of women in MBA courses rose to 38 per cent. In addition, one Forté school reached gender parity (50 percent male/female enrolment) for the first time, and more than one-third of schools reached 40 per cent enrolment.

The USC Marshall School of Business was the first Forté school to achieve gender parity this year with 52 per cent women. Three other schools got close: Northwestern Kellogg (46%), Dartmouth Tuck (45%), and Imperial College Business School (45%).

While the number of Fortune 500 women CEOs has declined in the last year, it’s heartening to see women’s enrollment in business school continues to increase, albeit at a slower pace than last year,” Elissa Sangster, Forté Foundation CEO, said in a press release. “We continue to aim for 40% women’s enrollment by 2020 at our member schools as an MBA provides an economic mobility engine for women and helps build the pipeline of women leaders. And countless research shows that having more women in senior leadership improves corporate financial performance.”

But to get women to sign up is harder work than one might think. Schools usually try a mixture of methods from scholarships to mentoring.

Scholarships awarded to Forté Fellows have also been key to increasing the number of women MBAs, climbing from 33 scholarships in 2003 to over 1,500 scholarships for the incoming class of 2018 and another 1,300 scholarships for second year students.