Women have made great strides in representation in graduate business education and top MBA programs over the last 10 years. The Forté Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing women in business schools and the workplace, found that women’s enrollment in full-time MBA programs at its member schools has inched up steadily for the last seven consecutive years, from an average of 33% of women enrollment in fall 2013 to nearly 39% in 2019 on average at the top business schools.

In the past two years, despite challenges women faced in the pandemic, such as a greater share of job losses, Women’s enrollment in business school did not decline overall. Last fall, 6 of the top 10 MBA programs reported 40% women in their full-time MBA programs, led by Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business, which stands on the verge of gender parity with 49% women. Half of the top 25 — 13 schools — reported reaching the 40% threshold in 2020.

Research by GMAC shows that there has been a strong demand for graduate management education among female candidates. 60% of programs report growth in applications from female candidates in 2020. In a survey in 2019, 9 in 10 women agreed that earning their MBA was rewarding and that they would do it again. This could be due in part to businesses increasingly recognizing the value of gender, cultural, and ethnic diversity. If more women in leadership equal more profits, then companies could be part of the solution, particularly if they step up their efforts to encourage female employees to advance their education, actively recruit more women who have MBAs, and have women in the C-suite—all of which might encourage other women to pursue an MBA.

Candidates choosing a business school or MBA program usually take into consideration the following factors:

  • Location of the program
  • Ranking/prestige of the university
  • School’s and program’s specializations
  • Specific recruiters that might recruit from various programs
  • Specific courses of study
  • School’s culture
  • Teaching methods
  • Class size
  • School’s approach to students

When choosing a business school, in addition to regular considerations, some female applicants might consider these additional factors:

  • The ratio of men to women
  • Assistance for parents (in case of applicants who are mothers)
  • Gender equality on campus
  • Women scholarships
  • Where do the program’s female alumni work and how do they promote the program

While all the above factors are important, and we, at ARINGO MBA Admissions Consulting, would like to encourage you to apply to your dream school, we do suggest also considering your realistic chances of gaining admission (ARINGO provides a free MBA Chances Estimation Tool). For example, Stanford Graduate School of Business has an acceptance rate of 6.9%, MIT 14.6% and Booth nearly 25%.

Business schools have really ramped up their efforts to recruit and groom future women leaders, so when planning to apply, make sure to take advantage of every available opportunity. A lot can be learned about the school by attending general information sessions and connecting with other prospective applicants, current students, alumni, and faculty and by asking questions about the specific opportunities for women in their prospective MBA program.

Women considering business school should know that the MBA is degree truly one of the best ways to transform their career by giving them the skills and knowledge necessary to be a successful business leader.