Are B-Schools Failing Female Students, Faculty?

Last Updated Apr 28, 2010 3:57 PM EDT

Last month, I blogged about a new study finding that when it comes to pay and promotions, female MBAs lag significantly behind their male colleagues. Two recent articles once again examined the disparity between men and women in MBA culture.

B-schools don't address female concerns
In their Forbes.com piece "Why Business Schools Are Failing Women," writers Selena Rezvani (an author and Johns Hopkins MBA) and Sandie Taylor (a current MBA student at Wake Forest University) make many compelling arguments as to why business schools fail to attract and retain as many female students as they do male. One of the key nuggets of their argument is this:

B-school culture is very masculine and "known for its aggressive, thigh-slapping, beer-swilling culture," the authors write. Because of this, female-centric concerns such as being viewed seriously, balancing career and family and navigating male-female power struggles are not part of b-school education.
Where are the female b-school profs?
Perhaps this would be different if there were more female MBA professors. Rezvani and Taylor quote a Financial Times finding that Columbia Business School and Stanford's MBA program employ 17 percent and 19 percent female faculty respectively. However, low employment numbers isn't the only problem that female b-school faculty faces.

In "Harvard Business School Grapples With Gender Imbalances," The Harvard Crimson reports on nine female junior faculty members who have left in recent years because they were denied tenure or felt their chances of obtaining it were slim, even though they had many "similar characteristics" as male faculty members who were granted tenure.

Is Harvard b-school discriminating against female candidates? Not exactly, but the article makes the case for both conscious and unconscious biases against women in b-school culture. As one professor who left explains, "There is a subtle difference in treatment that men and women receive. These small differences in treatment accumulate. It damages women over time."

Image courtesy of Flickr user jaroslavd, CC 2.0.

  • Stacy Blackman

    Stacy Sukov Blackman is president of Stacy Blackman Consulting, where she consults on MBA admissions. She earned her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and her Bachelor of Science from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Stacy serves on the Board of Directors of AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, and has published a guide to MBA Admissions, The MBA Application Roadmap.