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What Women Want: MBAs from GSM

Female applicants jump 70 percent in three years

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Danielle Rodriguez (GSM'08) is heading to the Bank of America leadership program after graduation. Photo courtesy of SMG

When Danielle Rodriguez first visited the Graduate School of Management two years ago, she noticed something different: the large number of female students compared with other schools.

Rodriguez (GSM’08) liked what she saw. “I didn’t want to be in an old boys club,” she says. “We have a significant difference in female applicants.”

Indeed, the number of women applying to the Graduate School of Management’s M.B.A. program has jumped almost 70 percent in the last three years, from 332 in 2005 to more than 559 in 2008. BU expects that this year’s incoming class will be about 45 percent female. Among the top 50 M.B.A. programs, the average female enrollment is between 28 and 30 percent. Harvard University’s M.B.A. class of 2009 is about 36 percent female.

“When people come to visit, they see a lot of women, and they feel comfortable,” says Christopher E. Storer, GSM’s director of graduate admissions. “This is a place where we value women. We don’t play it up — it’s just fundamentally an important aspect of what we offer.” He notes that the school’s curriculum, smaller classes, and nonprofit programs tend to draw more women.

That diversity in the classroom, in turn, leads to a better learning environment, Storer says. “It creates a more dynamic class on all levels and adds to a more successful workplace in the long run.”

Female applicants also look beyond graduation, to the kinds of jobs that alumnae have landed. “Women are looking for the ability of graduates to move up the ladder, like Christine Poon (GSM’83), a vice chairman at Johnson & Johnson,” Storer says. “They’re looking for a proven track record — M.B.A.s tend to be about outcomes.”

Rodriguez, who plans to join the Bank of America leadership program after graduation, says that GSM fully met her expectations. “From my experience, the environment is more open here, the classes are smaller. If you want a more collaborative environment, this is the place for you,” she says.

“They say they embrace diversity, and I got here and found out they actually do,” Rodriguez says. “The quality of women in the program is amazing.”

Kimberly Cornuelle can be reached at kcornuel@bu.edu.

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