Top business schools form network to achieve MBA gender balance

Top business schools form network to achieve MBA gender balance

Five of Australia’s leading business schools have joined forces in a landmark partnership agreement designed to tackle the gender imbalance in MBA study. The network of schools is committed to raising almost $20 million (in university and industry funds) to attract 320 new women into MBA programs over the next three years.

Curtin University, the University of South Australia, Monash Business School and Sydney Business School have combined with the Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) to deliver their Women in MBA program (WiMBA) – which partners with business to identify top female employees and support them financially, logistically and by offering support and guidance to complete MBA study. This WiMBA Network  will make the WIMBA program available to women in South Australia, Wollongong, Melbourne, Sydney and Western Australia for the first time.

Signing the Memorandum of Understanding on August 7 at the Australian Business Deans Council meeting on the Gold Coast, MGSM’s Director of Gender Inclusion, Professor Kristina Keneally said that the WiMBA Network is driven by a collective drive to achieve gender balance in MBA study.

 “Studies show that a MBA has a significant impact on career pathways with graduates reporting a promotion, increased responsibilities and an increase in their salary package. However, in 2015, MBA degree enrolments are 30 – 35 per cent female, it’s just not good enough,” said Professor Keneally.

“Since MGSM introduced the WiMBA program almost 12 months ago, more than 40 women, sponsored by around 25 corporate partners have signed up to this program. However, MGSM is limited to a small geographical area and this network enables the program to spread nationally and provide more Australian women with an opportunity to advance their career through MBA study,” she said.

 “We believe that by addressing the inequality at enrolment level we could have a real impact on the numbers of women working in senior management, executive ranks and on the boards of our leading companies,” said the Dean of MGSM, Professor Alex Frino. 

Each signing institution has commented on the Network:

Colm Kearney, Head of Monash Business School and Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics said: “Monash Business School has a strong commitment to promoting equal opportunity in employment, education and service delivery. We are proud to be part of the WiMBA Network to further our support of equity in MBA education and, by extension, in the boardroom,"

Professor Tony Travaglione, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Curtin Business School said: “Curtin University is based in Western Australia; a mining, oil and gas intensive state. As such, we are acutely aware of the need to encourage and equip women for leadership roles and believe the introduction of scholarships specifically for women will encourage our business community to create the next generation of female leaders.”

Professor John Glynn, Executive Dean, Faculty of Business/Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong said: “The network will ensure our future female leaders in Sydney and Wollongong have an opportunity to study in a supportive learning environment where they can gain the knowledge required in business to drive success, while receiving financial support from their organisation and the Sydney Business School.”

University of South Australia Pro Vice Chancellor Business and Law, Professor Marie Wilson said: “The partnership would be important in generating national opportunities for women to grow their influence and leadership. Because WiMBA is about a partnership with business to develop female leadership it does two things – it gets business and industry thinking in the right way about women’s potential and then it gets them to back women to achieve that potential. UniSA Business School is really proud to be part of a network that will support enterprising women in their career progress.” 

About the WiMBA program

Based on the findings of research conducted by MGSM which found that cost and time are the primary barriers to women completing MBA study, the WiMBA program encourages diversity in leadership by partnering with business to identify top female employees and supporting them through an MBA. It is driven by an internal sponsor – a key employee of the corporate partner – who nominates company employees on the basis that they are potential future leaders of the company.

Support from the employer takes three forms:

Financial  

The WiMBA initiative offers scholarships to women to complete their MBA in a partnership with their employer. The network will match the contribution of the corporate partner dollar for dollar (up to 50 per cent). In order to qualify, the corporate partner must contribute a minimum of 15% of the tuition fee per nominated recipient.

Over the next 3 years, the network have committed to setting aside $8.55 million in fee waivers. Matched to industry funds, this raises a total of $17.1 million to attract 320 new women into MBA programs. 

On-the-ground

The employer will provide logistical and practical support to enable the recipient to attend class, undertake additional study and group work and complete assignments.

Guidance and advice 

The employer will pair recipients with in-house mentors/sponsors to provide them with guidance, support and advice throughout their MBA program and also in helping them to develop a post-MBA career pathway.

A MBA has a significant impact on career pathways and is particularly acute in driving middle-managers towards executive roles. The network aims to address the inequality at MBA enrolment level and impact the numbers of women working in senior management, executive ranks and on the boards of our leading companies.

More information on WIMBA.

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