New scholarships, alliances and program innovations will expand opportunities for women at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, which already offers a range of initiatives designed to empower aspiring female managers.
One source of new scholarships will come from Smith’s participation in the Forté Fellows Program, an international campaign organized to increase the number of women in top MBA programs. Smith was one of only six institutions accepted as a Forté Foundation sponsor in 2014, the first year the consortium invited U.S.-based business schools to apply since 2011.
Smith and the other five schools officially joined the Forté community on July 1, bringing the total in the network to 48 member schools in the United States, Canada and Europe. “We are committed to supporting women MBA students, so it is an honor to join this group,” said Alex Triantis, Smith’s dean. “Being part of this organization will help us meet our goals of attracting and advancing more women in business careers.”
Other opportunities will come through a separate alliance with MBA Women International. The school will take center stage Oct. 9-11, 2014, when female business leaders and students from around the world gather for the organization’s annual conference and career fair in Washington, D.C.
As a signature sponsor, Smith will recruit keynote speakers and organize panel discussions on women in consulting, marketing and finance. Abigail Zaniel, who served as president of the Smith Association of Women MBAs until her May 2014 graduation, said the event will provide a friendly environment for participants to network, share stories and draw strength from each other.
“Women face special challenges in the workplace,” Zaniel said. “We need opportunities for candid conversations about work-life balance and other issues.”
In addition to new scholarships and alliances, the school has organized a task force to explore program innovations and other initiatives to support women.
“The end goal is to impact companies,” said Vice Dean Joyce E.A. Russell, appointed by Triantis to lead the group of Smith faculty, staff, students and alumni. “If we want to impact change in companies, and have women reach the highest levels in organizations, then we need to help more women have successful experiences in business school.”
Russell said the goal is to build on Smith initiatives that already set the school apart as a leader on gender issues. “We will set priorities,” Russell said. “We will identify signature events and integrate all of our different activities.”
The Smith Women and MBA Symposia Scholarship provides one example of existing activities. The school recently named incoming part-time MBA student Monica Bautista as the 2014 recipient of the $20,000 award, which recognizes Bautista’s potential as a business leader and her achievements as a health educator with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Bautista will join Smith’s Washington, D.C., Weekend Program in fall 2014.