Gender equity is a prominent theme in business today. So too in business schools, which have for decades been male-dominated.
There are signs, however, that the tide is turning. Several elite schools have achieved gender parity in their MBA programs, meaning that they recruit as least as many women as they do men.
They have done so through a mixture of scholarships, clubs and mentorship programs aimed at helping women not just enroll in MBAs, but thrive in their careers.
We’ve crunched the data and produced a list of the best MBA programs for women, based on the proportion of female students in the classroom, and their career outcomes after graduation.
In recent years, Fudan University School of Management in Shanghai, China, has had one of the most gender diverse MBAs globally, with up to 65 percent of the class being female. The school also has among the most progressive policies for encouraging women to enroll, for example allowing prospective female students to bring their families along to recruitment events to see the pressures MBA students face, and provide strategies for coping with the pressure. There’s also a Women Leadership Scholarship, and a forum where female students can support each other’s development.View School Profile
ESSEC Business School in France has a whopping 56 percent female MBA class and it was featured in the 2018 ranking of the world’s best MBA programs for women by the Financial Times. ESSEC runs a Women’s MBA Network that helps female students and alumni through their careers, for example with salary negotiation workshops to help women negotiate higher pay and close the gender pay gap.View School Profile
The UK’s University of Edinburgh Business School has increased the proportion of women in its MBA to 55 percent from 49 percent in 2017. A large proportion of the school’s faculty are also female, which better reflects today’s business environment. The school has also created a ‘Women in Leadership’ elective and hired a recruitment relationship manager to support women (and men) through the admissions process. The school’s relatively low tuition fees may also be attractive to women, given the gender pay gap.View School Profile
USC Marshall School of Business in 2018 became the first top US business school to achieve gender parity, or at least 50 percent women enrollment. The school holds an International Women’s Day Celebration each year on its Los Angeles campus. UCLA Marshall also hosts a women-focused MBA case competition for students from business schools around the world. There’s also a “Mother’s Room” on campus to support female MBA candidates who have children.View School Profile
Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Antai School of Economics and Management has achieved gender parity in its MBA class. The MBA features a flexible curriculum that can support students with family responsibilities. And the school in China topped the FT’s list of the top MBAs for women last year, which is based on the schools where women perform best. Antai has an impressive average salary increase, with women graduates growing their pay by 224 percent over three years.View School Profile
Stanford Graduate School of Business in California is renowned the world over. The prestigious institution has dominated MBA rankings over the years. It’s also developing quite a reputation for accelerating the careers of women, who account for 41 percent of the current MBA class. The school, number two on the FT’s ranking for women, scored second globally for the career progress of its female alumni. Many Stanford graduates work in Silicon Valley—the tech and innovation hub where the campus is located, home to the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook. The average salary for female alums three years after graduation is a juicy $197,791.View School Profile
Haas School of Business, at the University of California Berkeley, is another top performer in the FT’s ranking. Some 40 percent of the cohort is female and 90 percent of alumni the FT surveyed said they had achieved their career aims just three years from graduation. Haas houses the Center for Equity, Gender and Leadership, which educates leaders who can tear down barriers and drive positive change across industries. The school’s Women in Leadership club is very active, and Haas also hosts the Women in Leadership Conference, which has for more than two decades brought senior women together to learn from each other so as to advance to leadership positions.View School Profile
The Cranfield School of Management, based in the UK’s midlands (close to London), has 49 percent women in its full-time MBA. The business school is renowned for its pioneering work on identifying gender inequality in the workplace. Since 1999 it has produced the Female FTSE Index, which tracks the number of female executive directors in UK blue chip companies. The school has also produced some of Britain’s top female executives, notably Sara Louise Willingham, the star of the business pitch TV show Dragon’s Den.View School Profile
The business school at the University of Hong Kong did not admit its first female student until 1921. Today the MBA cohort is comprised of 46 percent women, an impressive feat for one of Hong Kong’s oldest educators. HKU is one of Asia’s top business schools and the program is diverse in more ways than one. It attracts a wide range of nationalities to the course, on which students can spend time studying at other top business schools in London, New York and Shanghai.View School Profile
Imperial College Business School in London is one of the UK’s best-known MBA providers. It’s renowned for a STEM focus and for its links to top employers in the UK capital. Imperial has 45 percent women in its MBA, a feat it has achieved through generous women’s leadership scholarships as well as the Women in Business Society. The student-led club aims to build a strong network of aspiring women and supports them through skills building workshops, mentorship programs and meetings with top employers.View School Profile