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Jumping into the Gender Gap

Last week during a break, I found out that our inaugural class of the university's new MBA program had lost a comrade. She wasn't the first, so it wasn't a huge surprise. Our class started the program with 56 members. Three months in, we're already down to 53.

No, I wasn't surprised to hear someone else had dropped out. But what bothered me was that someone else was a she.

I didn't really notice during the two days of orientation. The first night included spouses, so when I met my teammates, I was too busy trying to figure out who was the teammate and who was the spouse. The second day of orientation we spent primarily as teams, so I didn't get a sense of the overall class.

I think it really hit me the first night of class: Our group had far less female students than I had expected. Maybe it's because I work on a team with all women; maybe it's because I majored in subject areas that have a high female concentration; maybe it's because I went to an all-girls high school. Maybe I'm just naïve.

Whatever the reason, I was surprised to look around my fellow classmates and only count 13 other women. I really thought there'd be more.

Even more disconcerting was that our professor seemed excited by the numbers. Women make up one-quarter of the MBA candidates, he stressed. Considering that we make up more than 50 percent of the population, consider me a little underwhelmed.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to start a fight, nor am I suggesting any discrimination on the part of the university. I have no idea how many women applied to the program vs. how many were accepted vs. how many sit in class with me every Monday and Wednesday.

All I'm saying is that it wasn't what I expected. I just really thought there'd be more.

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