Reasons to Get an MBA
The versatility of an MBA means that it will be helpful regardless of the career path you decide to take. Big corporations aren't the only companies that hire MBAs. Non-profits, healthcare organizations, small companies and government offices are also hiring MBAs. Women like the designer Ruthie Davis, Pinkberry's co-founder Shelly Hwang, and Benefit Cosmetics' founders Jane and Jean Ford have used their MBAs to help build successful businesses. The versatility of the MBA has also allowed women MBAs to choose industries and positions that give them a better work-life balance.
Earning an MBA creates new career opportunities in the business world. The general management expertise you gain from your business school education will increase your chances of rising up to the senior management level.
Salary increases are often another result of getting an MBA since MBAs are usually among the highest paid workers in the US. According to Poets & Quants, the salaries of MBA women in the class of 2011 increased 45% over their pre-degree salary.
There are more scholarship opportunities for women who want to get their MBA. In order to level the business playing field, organizations such as the Forte Foundation provide scholarships and events designed for women to get their MBAs.
Lastly, now is a good time for women to look into business school because enrollment at several top schools is up as a result of efforts to increase female enrollment. According to the Wall Street Journal, 45% of Wharton's incoming 2011 class is female compared to 40% the year before. Harvard Business School also has a record number of female students -- 39% of the Class of 2013 is female. Wharton's Deputy Director of MBA Admissions, Ankur Kumar, says that the increase in female students is the direct result of recruitment efforts, including visiting days for women and information sessions at all-female colleges. Other well-ranked business schools, such as R.H. Smith and the Simmons School of Management hold events designed specifically for female MBA applicants.
Choosing a Business School
Finding a school with a strong network of female students and alumni is important, since an MBA is a source of mentoring opportunities. Having mentors helps women find jobs upon graduation, since they can practice together on case questions and mock interviews. Alumni can also be a source of valuable information about the hiring practices of MBA recruiters.
When choosing a business school, you should investigate the learning environment and the campus culture. These are indicators of how supportive a business school is toward it's female students. The best people to ask are the admissions office, current students and alumni. When contacting admissions offices, you should also ask if there are any school-specific scholarships for female MBA applicants.
Find out what kinds of women's organizations are on campus. INSEAD's Women in Business Club hosts lectures by prominent speakers. Wharton Women hosts a number of events for female Wharton students including the Wharton Women Business Conference.
Resources for Women
Who they are: The Forte Foundation is a consortium of major corporations and business schools that educates and directs women toward business leadership roles.
Who they are: The National Association for Female Executives is one of the largest associations for women professionals and women business-owners in the US.
What they provide: Education, networking opportunities, advocacy, the NAFECafe online community
Who they are: Catalyst is a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding business opportunties for women.
What they provide: Research and knowledge on topics such as Women in Leadership and Diverse Women & Inclusion
Who they are: Women for Hire is a company devoted providing women with recruiting services and are best known for their career expos.