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Women and the MBA

Last night I attended a reception we hosted at the Yale Club for women interested in pursuing an MBA. The evening consisted of a panel, moderated by former Dean Sharon Oster, of five alumnae pursuing careers in various fields -- finance, consumer packaged goods, healthcare, management consulting, and non-profit management. This event is just one of many we hold for women interested in graduate management education. Last month, for example, I was in Bogota for a reception hosted by Fundacion Mujeres por Colombia. We have hosted this group in New Haven several times, and they were kind enough to reciprocate. (As an aside, this past Wednesday former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe spoke here at Yale SOM -- just down the hall from my office, in fact. One example of the many amazing speakers we're fortunate to get here at Yale.) In addition, I recently joined colleagues from Harvard and Wharton for information sessions at two women's colleges -- Barnard and Smith -- and we're planning sessions at Wellesley and Bryn Mawr in the near future. My counterpart at Harvard and I have held these events for the past few years; we're thrilled to have additional schools join us. One purpose of these various events is to help explain the unique power of an MBA for women. We're fortunate to have a strong community of women here at Yale SOM dating back to the school's founding. The representation of women in business school, however, continues to lag that of women in other professional schools such as law school and medical school. As a "recovering lawyer" myself, I've always been bemused that law school is seen as the default professional degree for opening career doors. An MBA is far more powerful in terms of creating options and providing career flexibility -- a point last night's panelists amply demonstrated. We at Yale will continue to articulate the value of an MBA for women across all professional fields.