Women are slowly breaking through the glass ceiling into business.
The number of women enrolled in full-time MBA programs reached a record 42 percent this year, says the Forté Foundation, which tracks women in business.
That’s eight percentage points higher than a decade ago.
Meanwhile, the number of women at five top business schools equalled or surpassed the number of men candidates — the largest number to reach that milestone in any single year to date.
Women MBA candidates now outnumber men at the business school at Johns Hopkins University
Five business schools reached the milestone of MBA student gender parity this year
‘Greedy jobs’ keep women down, says Nobel economist Claudia Goldin
The advocacy group’s CEO Elissa Sangster said she was ‘thrilled’ by the ‘slow but steady climb’ of women getting spots at top schools
‘Getting to gender parity in MBA programs is an uphill climb, but it’s critical to drive change and help more women lead in the C-suite, on boards, and as business owners,’ she said.
The relatively small number of women leaders in business has been a concern of rights groups for decades.
Though Karen Lynch, president and CEO of CVS Health, and Rosalind Brewer, until recently the CEO of Walgreens, reached the top, few women make it to apex roles.
They only make up about a tenth of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
Campaigners also highlight the overall pay gap between men and women.
Last year, American women typically brought home 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to Pew Research Center.
Karen Lynch, president and CEO of CVS Health, Rosalind Brewer, until recently the CEO of Walgreens, are praised as successful women in business
This may not amount to discrimination, some analysts say, as women gravitate to such jobs as teaching and nursing that attract lower wages.
According to Sangster, getting more women into MBA programs is the best way to change this dynamic.
Women have been outpacing men in higher education for decades.
They’ve earned the majority of bachelor’s degrees in the US since the early 1980s.
But the share of women in MBA programs has lagged behind men, even as women made strides in other professions.
That needs to change, says Sangster.
An MBA degree is a ‘stepping stone’ to bigger salaries, like the $21.3 million that Lynch brought home last year.
Nearly half of the women CEOs in the S&P 500 have an MBA, or a comparable business qualification, Forté says.
Men still dominate the boardrooms of major companies. Pictured: The Turkish Airlines team rings the opening bell on New York Stock Exchange
Lynch studied at Boston College and then Boston University Questrom School of Business.
The group tracks enrollment at more than 50 of the top schools in the US, Canada, and Europe.
The business school at the University of Southern California became the first Forté partner to enroll more women than men in full-time study in 2018.
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania became the first elite school to reach that milestone in 2021.
Harvard economist Claudia Goldin won the 2023 Nobel economics prize for her work on women in the job market.
Women now make up nearly two thirds of the MBA candidates at George Washington University’s business school
The gap in earnings between men and women comes down to the ‘motherhood penalty,’ according to Goldin.
Women often suffer for having babies and needing flexibility to be able to look after their kids.
Her 16-year-long study of graduates from a top MBA school found that female graduates who had children had more interruptions to their career, less experience and lower pay.
Goldin’s 1990 book ‘Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women’ was a hugely influential examination of wage inequality over two centuries.
She has followed up with studies on how the contraceptive pill, marriage, and college education affect women’s careers.