It is a worldwide trend that women do not pursue MBAs as much as men. A recent Stanford lecture gave some insights.
Pursuing an MBA is a career choice. Its no use doing the degree without a plan for the next decade of career advancement. MBAs ratchet you up to a high-powered job, and career movement. And, MBAs themselves are particularly demanding courses of study. They require great commitment and understanding from families and friends.
Guest speakers at Stanford related stories about needing two nannies and a personal assistant to cope, and about not having set foot in a gym for 10 years. They also told stories of women deciding that you cannot have children and an MBA. “It can take 10 years to establish yourself before you feel you can take a maternity leave. Then you’re in your late 30s and infertility can be a problem.”
Such are the tradeoffs that women consider either before they seek an MBA degree or after they graduate. It’s the typical timeline for an MBA degree that most discourages some women from applying to business school. M.B.A. students tend to be about 27 years old, creating what one business-school official calls “a biological collision.” As they near 30, women who are focusing on marriage and children worry about how an MBA will affect their plans.
Medical and law schools attract more women in part because they can enter right after college, while most business schools seek applicants with at least four or five years of work experience. Some schools are starting to be more flexible to encourage younger women to apply, but it’s too early to detect any measurable impact on enrollment data.
Female MBA enrollment grew during the 1980s and 1990s, but has since leveled off at 25% to 30% at many schools. In its surveys of prospective students, the Graduate Management Admission Council found that women were significantly more likely than men to list the following potential reservations about attending business school: it might be intimidating or too stressful; it might force them to postpone marriage, children or other personal plans; it might require more experience than they felt they had; and it might severely limit available time for people who are important in their lives.

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