The majority of factors involved in choosing an MBA program are non-gender specific, but there are a few specific issues at play. Here are some factors for female applicants to consider when choosing their dream program:
1. Ratio of men to women – This is an important number to factor into your considerations. According to Forbes, more than 10 of the top 20 business schools are nearly balanced in their ratios, despite the fact that the majority of candidates are men.
You therefore might want to consider the school’s male to female ratio of both enrolled students and candidates to get a better sense of your chances for acceptance.
2. Assistance for parents – If you have children, you may be concerned with how you will balance your studies with family life.
This is of course also a concern men face, but depending on the ages of your children and on the division of responsibility in your home, it could be helpful to consider what facilities the school provides for students coming with their families.
Some schools have established preschool programs; others offer high flexibility with scheduling classes; and others provide a wide range of locations for breastfeeding mothers.
3. Gender equality on campus – As a woman in business about to commit the next two years of your life to a program, you want to be sure you will feel empowered, welcomed and valued.
Definitely speak to other women who are enrolled or who have matriculated at the program, and ask for a detailed account of their experiences as women.
Check out if the program has any special classes, clubs or seminars focusing on gender equality. Look up the president of the school’s Women in Business club to ascertain how active on campus it is.
4. Are there scholarships for women? – Schools looking to attract women, eager to balance out their ratios, might offer special incentives, in the way of scholarships for women candidates.
If financing your MBA is an issue or you are trying to avoid taking loans, you can consider choosing a program where you will have a good chance at winning a full or partial scholarship.
5. Where are its female alumni today? – You are about to invest up to two years of your life and an enormous amount of money in this degree.
There are likely many important reasons why you have decided to take this step, from looking to widen your horizons and discover industry best practices, to needing to expand your professional network.
However, one of the most likely and important reasons is to advance your professional career. You have goals, and the MBA is a great way of attaining them.
So, as a woman looking to choose an MBA program, you might strongly consider doing some research to discover what the program’s women alumni are doing today—one, three or even ten years after graduation.
Since you will be following in their footsteps, you want to make sure that they are taking you in the right direction.
Those are all just some of the initial considerations that can help you as a woman in business considering an MBA program.
Next, having selected the programs you find attractive, it will be time to consider how to leverage being a woman through choosing the right content for your application.
Other things to consider
Now we’ve addressed the specifics of being a woman in business, here are a few issues that everyone needs to consider, in no particular order of priority:
Current figures give the Stanford Graduate School of Business an acceptance rate of 6.9%, MIT 14.6% and Booth nearly 25%. When choosing which programs you’ll apply to, consider a range so that you will have the best possible chance of gaining admission.
Certain MBA programs have a reputation in particular niches. Consider which programs are a good match for your previous roles and future goals.
There is a wide range of cohort sizes throughout the different MBA programs, from 250 at Haas to nearly 1,000 at Harvard Business School and every option in between. Give some thought as to whether an intimate class feels right for your particular nature, or if you’re drawn to a larger cohort and its benefits, one of which could be a wider range of networking opportunities.