The Forté Foundation this week reports women’s full-time enrollment in MBA programs is 35 percent and higher in fall 2015 at “16 elite business schools.” This includes the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, where women comprised 38 percent of the enrollment, up from 34 percent the previous year.
The overall rise, the foundation says, represents “a dramatic increase over a decade ago in 2005, when only three schools hit that (35 percent) target.” The figure collectively is 36.2 percent among the foundation's 36-member schools. This is up from 32.3 percent in 2011.
With women underrepresented in MBA programs across the United States, Smith pledged to close the gap within five years. The school announced a 50/50 by 2020 Pledge March 2015, during the school's fourth annual Women Leading Women symposium and International Women's Day celebration. The 2020 target for 50-percent enrollment includes women in the full-time, part-time, online and executive MBA programs and coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees U.S. women the right to vote.
In an early step toward the goal, the Smith School became an educational partner of the Forté Foundation in 2014. The consortium of corporations, business schools and nonprofit organizations works to empower women in the workplace. At Smith, this will mean access to new scholarships, events and career opportunities for women. Other 50/50 by 2020 initiatives focus on priorities identified by a panel of faculty, staff, students and alumni called the Women's Initiative Board.
The focus areas are recruiting and admissions, student programming, and alumni support. Smith is working to make business school more attractive for women through scholarships, fellowships, women-only information sessions, and more flexible program offerings. New or recent initiatives include Lean In Circles, fireside chats, mini-podcasts and Forté Foundation events, including an MBA career fair for women. Smith’s Association of Women MBAs (SAWMBA) also provides opportunities for networking and professional growth.
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.