Part-time Programs Enroll 45 Percent Women in Fall 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 25, 2014) — Business schools nationwide have struggled to close the gender enrollment gap, but the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business has found success with new programming options and personalized attention for part-time MBA students in Washington, D.C. Overall, about 45 percent of the 160 students who started evening or weekend programs this month in the nation’s capital are women — far above the industry average of 30 to 35 percent.
“We mean what we say when we tell people that we want more women in our programs,” said Smith Vice Dean Joyce E.A. Russell, who leads a committee of faculty, staff, students and alumni focused on gender issues. “If we want to impact companies and have more women reach those higher levels in organizations, then we need to help more women have successful experiences in business schools.”
One new option available in fall 2014 is a blended format for weekend students that combines traditional face-to-face delivery with interactive modules, simulations, videos and reading material that supplement classroom assignments. Students in the program, which started Aug. 16, will attend daylong sessions on alternating Saturdays in Washington while completing additional coursework at other times.
“They control when they do the rest of their assignments,” said Edward Lavino, admissions director for Smith’s part-time MBA programs. “They can study in the mornings before work, in the middle of the day during lunch, at night after they put their kids to bed — or any combination of that.”
Working professionals who want to keep their jobs while earning an MBA also can choose evening programs that meet twice a week in Washington, Baltimore or Rockville, Md. Part-time MBA enrollment at all three campuses combined is 39 percent for fall 2014. “No matter where you live in the region, we have a campus close to your home or office,” Lavino said.
Monica Bautista, an incoming weekend MBA student, has an especially convenient commute. She works for the U.S. Agency for International Development in the same Ronald Reagan Building that serves as the Smith School’s Washington base. Bautista said the location and flexible format were factors in her decision to start the blended program, but the personalized attention she received from the Smith community gave her the added confidence she needed to apply.
“Something feels really good about the University of Maryland,” said Bautista, recipient of a $20,000 Smith Women and MBA Symposia Scholarship. “There is a good feeling that you get from being around the folks at the Smith School of Business.”
One alumna who shared her experiences with Bautista was Stephanie Cramer, an executive advisor at Avalere Health and a recent graduate of the part-time evening MBA program in Washington. “I speak at recruiting events because it means a lot to me,” Cramer said. “It is totally a pay-it-forward kind of thing.”
Cramer said she makes herself available to answer questions from male and female prospective students, but women are much more likely to reach out to her. “They want to know more,” she said. “They are doing more due diligence.”
One reason, she said, is because women are often reluctant to commit their own resources on themselves, and they need reassurances from current students and alumnae who have traveled down the same path. “Women are not selfish,” Cramer said. “Sometimes they will talk themselves out of applying, but we understand the psychology and are willing to spend more time with them to help them see the value of the investment.”