IBJNews

Local MBA programs score with women

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

When it comes to attracting women to MBA programs, local schools are outpacing the nation.

Nationally, about a third of MBAs go to women. But women have made up 52 percent of MBA students at Anderson University in recent years. At Butler University, the percentage of women spiked from 30 percent to 38 percent this year. The figure is 36 percent at the University of Indianapolis, up from 28 percent five years ago.

UIndy attributes its high female enrollment in part to its Saturday-only option, which is especially popular for students with children, said Stephen A. Tokar, director of UIndy’s graduate business programs.

MBA Telamon Vice President Sunny Lu said her MBA has helped her grow business. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Neither Anderson nor Butler reported special efforts to recruit women. But Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis has tried to attract women through flexibility, such as giving female students the option to take a semester off for maternity leave, said Mary Chappell, the school’s director of external affairs.

IU credits its Women’s MBA Advisory Board for increasing the proportion of women in its local program from 14 percent to 29 percent since 2002, Chappell said.

School leaders created the board because they thought having so few women in the program led to excessive competition and imbalanced discussions, she said.

The group aims to recruit more qualified women applicants; provide support, mentoring and networking opportunities for students and alumni; and increase the impact of female MBAs in Indianapolis.

The 37-member board includes business owners, not-for-profit leaders and executives at such companies as Eli Lilly and Co., WellPoint Inc. and OneAmerica Financial Partners, all based in Indianapolis. In the beginning, most of the board members were older alumni, but now a number are recent graduates.

Craving contacts

One of them is Sunny Lu, 28, vice president of business development at Telamon Corp., a Carmel-based telecommunications equipment supplier. She enjoys the camaraderie with other board members and students. The group’s events give students an opportunity to learn how to “work a room,” she said.

Lu herself decided to pursue an MBA because, as she climbed through the ranks at Telamon, she wanted a better grounding in finance. Now she can quickly gauge the health of a company by looking at a few financial statements.

Those technical skills were one of the primary benefits of earning her MBA, she said. Others were hearing lessons and anecdotes from business leaders who visited the classroom and the relationships she developed with classmates at IUPUI.

MBAThose contacts have already paid off, she said. For example, when she was overseeing construction of a new warehouse, she asked one of her former classmates, a general contractor, for advice. Another classmate, a human resources director, has helped her with hiring and other personnel issues.

She cautions, however, that “an MBA is only worth as much as you are able to apply it.” Women have a tendency to be too modest, and to wait for superiors to notice their talents, she said. “If you want to go for that leadership position, you have to ask for it. You have to take the initiative.”

What’s the point?

Women are likely to use an MBA to advance their careers, while men are more motivated by the desire to switch careers or to start their own businesses, according to research by the Virginia-based Graduate Management Admission Council.

Florrie Kichler is an exception. She had been working for a local book publisher and wanted to launch her own company, so she enrolled at the Kelley School In Indianapolis, and graduated in 1985.

“My MBA gave me the confidence to start my own business,” said Kichler, who launched Patria Press, a publisher of children’s historical fiction, in 1999.

She now enjoys helping younger women gain that confidence as a Kelley MBA Advisory Board’s mentor.

Female applicants to MBA programs tend to have higher undergraduate grade point averages but lower Graduate Management Admission Test scores than men, the GMAC reports.

Perhaps because they want to complete their advanced degrees before they start a family, female MBA students tend to be younger than their male counterparts, are less likely to be married or have children, and have less work experience, lower incomes and higher student loan debt.

Dobbs Dobbs

Polly Dobbs, 33, was one of the youngest members of her class when she began her MBA just two years after finishing her undergraduate work in history. Despite her youth, her writing skills soon proved valuable, “whereas male counterparts who had been working in finance for several years were great with numbers, but not so great with subject-verb agreement,” she said.

Now an attorney with local law firm Bingham McHale LLP, Dobbs believes having an MBA in addition to a law degree set her apart from other job candidates.

Trailing medicine, law

Dobbs pursued the two degrees simultaneously at IUPUI, and saw a big difference in the representation of women in the two programs. Women were the majority in her law classes, but were a small minority in her business courses.

Nationally, women make up nearly half of law and medical school enrollment, but only a third of those earning MBAs. The imbalance is in spite of the fact that women represent more than half of the graduates of the nation’s undergraduate business programs, according to the GMAC.

MBAThe California-based Executive MBA Council cites factors that may steer women away from an MBA: a lack of female role models, a lack of confidence in math skills, a lack of encouragement by employers, and an aggressive environment in business schools.

IU’s Chappell has another theory:

“I don’t think [MBA programs] have done a good job of telling how a business degree can help you change the world you live in. Law and medical [programs] do a better job of talking about how that happens.”

The gap isn’t surprising, said Tonya Olpin, executive director of the Houston-based National Association of Women MBAs. The group has 101 student chapters across the country, including groups at the Kelley School in Bloomington and Indianapolis. An MBA can cost $60,000 to $100,000 to complete and doesn’t provide a career path as direct as a medical or law degree, she said.

“An MBA doesn’t guarantee you [a job],” she said. “It gives you a toolbox.”

Although the percentage of U.S. women earning MBAs has not increased much in recent years, Olpin sees a change coming. Many baby boomers have delayed retirement, hoping to see their investment portfolios recover from the recession, she said. Once that wave of predominantly male executives leaves the work force, it will open the doors for more women to ascend to the corporate suite.

And as they do, Olpin predicted, younger women will want to make sure they have what it takes to follow them.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Hello Dear Are you tired of Seeking Loans and Mortgages,have you Been Turned down constantly By your banks and Other Financial Institutions or Micro Finance scheme. This is let you know with 100% guarantee that we Offer loans ranging from $1,000 Minimum to $1,000,000.00 Maximum at 3% interest rate per Month. We give out LOANS for developing business. a competitive edge/business expansion. email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com We offer the following kinds of loans and many more; * Personal Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Business Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Consolidation Loan * Combination Loan * Home Improvement * Xmas Loans for contact to seek for loan email this email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com Thanks

  2. My name is Mr Henry Josh and i live in the USA California and life is worth living right now for me and my family and all this is because of one man sent by GOD to help me and my family, i once had a life filled with sorrow because my first SON needed a kidney transplant and all our savings were going towards his medications and this normally leaves us with no money to pay our bills or even put enough food on our table and our rent was due and no funds to pay these bills and life felt so unfair to me and every night my wife will cry herself to sleep every night until one day, i was browsing through yahoo answers and i saw a striking advert of a man that gives out personal loans and that the offer is opened to all and i have heard so many things about internet scams but at this point of my life, i was very desperate and ready to take any risk and at the end of the day, i applied for this loan and from one step to another, i got my loan within 12 hours through bank transfer and you know, it was all like a dream and i called Mr Daniel Jones A Man who is the GOD sent lender i found and said, i have received my loan and he smiled stating that to GOD be the glory and i was so shocked as i have never ever seen anyone with such a GOD fearing and kind heart and today, i am the happiest man on earth because by GOD’S grace, my SON kidney transplant was successful and today he is healthy, i and my family are living very comfortable and happy and if you are in my former situation or in serious and legitimate need of a loan, you can reach this GOD sent lender via fidelityloanfirm@outlook.com

  3. Greetings to everyone reading this comment!!! I am Greg William by name. I am out here to recommend the effort of Mark Oscar,I was in need of a consolidation loan amount of 50,000 and as soon as I got in contact with Mark Oscar Loan Firm on Wednesday last week and on Friday last week as well I receive an alert from my bank(Royal Bank of Scotland Group) that the fund was transferred,I want everybody on this site to contact Mark Oscar now via email on how to get a loan because I got my loan from them and I am very happy,so contact them now. Oscarloanfinance@hotmail.com Thanks!!!!!!

  4. Elected officials, like Mourdock, get vested in 8 years. It takes 10 years for all other public employees, most of whom make a lot less money. So much for the promise to finish out his term.

  5. Great state treasurer and a good man!! Just curious if the folks who didn't quite understand his quote would like to tell my daughter-in-law that God didn't intend her! Mourdock's comment was correct but twisted and the article didn't mention that his opponent and the press let the impression stand that Mourdock meant that the rape was intended. Stupid people!!

ADVERTISEMENT