In the cutthroat world of business, it’s far from easy to make a name for yourself. For many women, however, simply being female can scupper your chances even more. The internet is full of countless stories about women who have been sacked simply for announcing their pregnancy, and who could forget the controversy surrounding Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella?
When broached with a question about the advice he’d give to women who don’t feel comfortable asking for a pay rise, Satya Nadella responded:
“It’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.”
What his audience was hoping to hear was a response covering the fact that men and women should be on equal footing, pay-wise, in the first place. There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, as things are starting to change.
The rise of the MBA
The traditionally-held view that women aren’t as ambitious as their male counterparts is gradually being broken down. Take Dutch business development manager Marjan Van Urk, who spoke to the Guardian in 2013 about discovering she was pregnant on the day she was accepted onto an MBA. She gave birth between her modules, breastfed between seminars and graduated with no disturbance to her studies whatsoever.
This growing self-confidence is evident through growing official figures: where just 32 per cent of the MBA market was traditionally made up of women, last year around 43 per cent of GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) entrants were female – a record number.
In countries like China, Taiwan and Russia, numbers were even more promising, with more women than men sitting the exam! The question is, how can we further boost the number of women embarking on MBA courses here in the UK?
The start of something unique
The key to attracting more women onto MBA courses is simple: tell them more about the benefits. MBAs aren’t the sole preserve of aggressively ambitious men, they are nurturing environments filled with opportunities.
Firstly, there is the chance to study under lecturers with first-hand experience of the business world. Their advice and anecdotes, coupled with a detailed knowledge of everything you need to learn to reap success, will prove invaluable.
Secondly, there is the wealth of people you will meet. Likeminded students from various corners of the globe can teach you valuable lessons about business practices and etiquette abroad and, you never know, one day you could even end up doing business together.
Finally, there is the opportunity to carry out your studies or take placements in a different country. Experiencing life in vibrant centres of business like China and Dubai will give you first-hand experience of what you can expect to experience following graduation; a rung on the ladder that employers hold in high esteem.
With courses now so accessible and more and more women deciding to take the plunge, there is nothing standing in the way of your MBA.