Insights About Women’s Motivations to Pursue Management Education


The need for more women leaders has never been more critical, and there is a never-ending stream of data to support this. Beginning with Fortune 500, women CEOs makeup 6.4% of the Fortune 500 list. Organisations that boast a higher representation of women on their boards, notably outperform the organisations that don’t. In fact, reports have also outlined that companies with greater gender diversity, not just within their workforce but directly among senior leaders, are significantly more profitable than those without. Now, this surely calls for a higher representation of women in various management programs that will prepare them for leadership roles.

A recent white paper from GMAC highlights multiple insights about why women want to pursue graduate management education, their approach to the application process, and the biggest challenges they face along the way. Following are some of the highlights –

  • For women, funding issues are a huge key barrier.
  • In general, women are more pragmatic and outcomes-focused in their approach to GME than their male counterparts, and they are less frightened by standardised testing.
  • Despite the fact that women are at or near parity in many non-MBA master’s degrees, the percentage of women in MBA classes has continuously stayed below 50%. Despite this, females are more likely than males to value an MBA degree.
  • Women in emerging economies such as China and India have different motivations and approaches to the application process than women in Western countries.

The infographic below shows some key findings from a study conducted by GMAC Market Intelligence:




Key Takeaways

  1. 44% of the GMAT test takers in the year 2021 were women.
  2. In the year 2021, women applied to full-time MBA programs at a 55% higher rate.
  3. Almost 81% of women MBA graduates said their business school prepared them for a leadership role.
  4. According to 88% of women candidates, the cost of business school may impact their decision to apply and enroll.
  5. Even in times of economic instability, 83% of women graduates are confident in their employability.


How Can Business Schools Attract Women to Pursue Management Degrees

To recruit female talent, business schools should make a long-term investment in learning about women’s motives for pursuing higher education and tailoring their messaging accordingly. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of achieving gender equality in business schools. Recruitment teams must interact with women early in the applicant pipeline and spend time learning about their motivations for joining the business school.


1. Align Your Messaging with the Goals of Women Who Want to Join a Business School

1. Align Your Messaging with the Goals of Women Who Want to Join a Business School

You’ll need to do research to recruit more women to graduate management programs. The goal of this study is to learn about the motivations and goals of female candidates who desire to attend business school. The prospective female candidates expressed comfort in seeing and being surrounded by other women in business. It’s a good idea to highlight the value of women in business and in the business school environment when presenting your messaging to prospective candidates.

Women-only scholarships and how they’re designed to help female candidates reach their full potential are two ways business schools can promote this message. Seeing the cultivation of women in the context of graduate management programs is very comforting for many female candidates. Think of how you’re showcasing women leaders in the senior-level positions, whether as speakers or in case studies, and how you may incorporate these instances in your outreach efforts.


2. Highlight Why Female Candidates Should Join Your Business School

2. Highlight Why Female Candidates Should Join Your Business School

You’ll need to explain how your school will benefit the female business candidates and their future careers to increase the female representation at business school. The GMASS platform connects admissions teams with a pipeline of female candidates, allowing them to learn about their career goals, age and expectations from a business school program. Women makeup up 48%of GMASS candidates, with 84% planning to begin in 2022. The right program types of female candidates should be suggested by the recruitment teams.

If you’re targeting women with limited work experience, for example, schools should lead them to master’s programs that help them get to experience while also demonstrating how the program may be a stepping stone to a successful career. Meanwhile, if you know any female candidates who have families or want to achieve a good work-life balance, you’ll need to demonstrate why specific business school programs will be a good fit for them. Perhaps offer programs or support networks that address maintaining a work-life balance while also being a student which will leave them with no other choice but to imagine themselves at your school.


3. Many Women on Faculty and leadership Roles

3. Many Women on Faculty and leadership Roles

The business world is skewed toward males, and the business school world is no different. By creating an environment where seeing the women faculty the female MBA candidates will feel intellectually equal. If the environment is apparently unfriendly to women and female faculty and staff don’t feel supported, female students won’t, either. Your school cannot afford to overlook the differences between men and women in management.


4. Assist Women MBAs to Feel Confident About the GMAT

4. Assist Women MBAs to Feel Confident About the GMAT

For some women MBAs, the GMAT might be a barrier to completing their education since they are unsure of their ability to clear the exam or existing test scores. According to a survey, roughly 27% of female candidates said they were delaying their MBA plans in 2020 because they needed more time to study for the GMAT or GRE. Directing female MBA candidates to GMAT prep tools which cover core business concepts like statistics, accounting, and finance to help preparing for the GMAT, will be a priority for recruitment teams reaching out to women MBAs.

Most importantly the thing to remember is that your  messaging for female candidates needs to be impactful and personalized. Learning more about women’s MBA goals for joining the business school and accessing data through the GMASS platform will help you to succeed in your outreach efforts and meaningfully target talented female candidates.


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