Beyond the #Girlbossmoment: Britney Sussman calls out gender inequity on the road to MBAs!
“Did you know that women make up over half of the workforce, but only 19% of total C-Suite positions? And that number takes a staggering hit once narrowed to just Fortune 500 companies. Only 4.2% of CEO positions in the Fortune 500 are filled by women (gasp!). This is problematic because other systemic issues like the gender wage gap, family leave, and broad subconscious gender biases become more difficult to solve without a strong representation of women at the top.
One way we will to start seeing more diversity at the top is by building the pipeline with high-potential Girlbosses who have the foundation to lead. Unfortunately, gender inequality is also a symptom of the MBA programs feeding many of these pipelines. Many of the classes graduating from top programs range between 26%-42% women. Luckily, business schools realize this and are taking steps towards classroom gender parity. However, I believe that more can be done… and this was the source of my #girlbossmoment.
In June, I graduated with my MBA from the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management. While there, I was deeply involved in women’s initiatives, working to not only improve the on-campus experience for current female students, but also to encourage and to inspire women early on in their careers to seriously consider business school. (Something that I have vowed to continue to do!)
Business school enabled my own personal and professional transformation. Despite being out only a few months, I’m already witnessing the ROI. Plus, I get to watch other women from my class at Anderson go forth and do amazing, diverse things, including starting the ClassPass of Mexico (Fitpass Mexico), killing their first consulting project focused on the construction industry, and pulling apart the question of micro-finance in Pakistan. The best part: We get to define our own version of success. Success for some women might be the C-Suite, but success might look very different for others.
Regardless, business school opens doors for women. Since I am dedicated to demonstrating the return on women in the workplace, you might imagine my dismay when I read a recent BusinessBecause article on “How to score a 700+ on the GMAT.” (The GMAT is notoriously a barrier to entry for many women interested in business school.) When I clicked on the article, I noticed that of the seven individuals profiled, only one was a woman. WTF. This is reckless journalism that sends a very clear, discouraging message to women. So, I said something in the comments. To the credit of BusinessBecause, they reached out to me with examples of some of their more equitable journalism and asked me to share my thoughts in a feature article, which is my #girlbossmoment!”
Three pieces of advice for Girlbosses seeking an MBA:
1. You’ll never get in if you don’t apply. Women are known for not applying for a new job or challenge unless they think they are 100% qualified, while men will apply if they only have 60% of the qualifications. (Dust off that b-school application and send it in!)
2. Find both male and female mentors. Start by identifying people at work or in your life whom you admire, and ask them for a half hour of their time to learn more about how they reached their current position and how they juggle their responsibilities. Ask smart questions and turn them into your advocates. (And maybe also into your b-school references!)
3. Don’t give up. Hopefully some of the earlier stats shocked you and reminded you that women are fighting an uphill battle. No one said success was going to be easy, but that makes the lemonade taste even sweeter. (If you aren’t happy with your first GMAT score, take it again!)