Is The Pandemic Adversely Affecting Women Enrolment For EMBA?

Has the Covid-19 pandemic impeded the rate of working women joining Business schools?

India’s premier B-schools have reported a slump in the female student ratio in full-time executive MBA programs, meant for those with work experience compared with last year.

The Economic Times had gathered information from the Indian Institutes of Management — IIM-A, IIMB, IIM-C, IIM-K, and ISB (Indian School of Business), Hyderabad.

How do experts explain the slip in women’s enrolments? 

  • The percentage of women in the executive MBA program dipped from the previous years across several B-schools.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic effect on employed women seems a reasonable explanation for the slump.
  • Women find it difficult to balance their jobs and personal lives owing to household obligations.

How alarming is the situation on gender diversity at top B-schools in India?

IIM Ahmedabad witnessed women’s enrolments drop from 28% in 2020 to 24% in 2021. Vishwanath Pingali, the chairperson of the PGPX course at IIM-A, attributes the fluctuations in class size in successive years to the diverse profiles of students who fulfil IIM-A’s selection criteria. The B-school hopes to improve gender diversity despite the slip in numbers this year, Mr. Pingali asserted.  

IIM Calcutta saw an ebb too — women enrolments fell from 20% last year to 16% this year. 

IIM Kozhikode director Debashis Chatterjee seconded the IIM-A Director. He considers the load of domestic constraints on working women an encumbrance of their higher education dreams. Mr. Chatterjee avowed that the women application numbers in their institute seem promising. However, the current pandemic crisis has thrown hot water on many working women’s hopes of pursuing a management degree.

IIM-K’s gender saw its diversity percentage slip from 18.6% the year before to 16.6% last year. IIM-K’s current year’s batch is still on the horizon.

IIM Bangalore has managed to stay above the dipping gender diversity at its peer institutes. The present class of 2022 with 75 students has 20% women, while the class of 2021 with 73 students consisted of 11% women. Nevertheless, both years have recorded a lower percentage than the class of 2019, which saw 23% women.

Dibyendu Bose, senior director of admissions and financial aid (AFA) at ISB Hyderabad, cited the surge in women enrolments in their PGP program. ISB Hyderabad has recorded a 38% women enrolment ratio this year compared to 40% last year. Mr. Bose attributed the rising number of girl students to ISB’s ardent measures to improve gender diversity in the school.

How do the leading B-schools plan to improve the gender ratio?

  • IIM-K Director Chatterjee affirmed that the 2020 executive MBA intake had recorded a new high in enrolments.
  • The ISB batch size grew from 693 last year to 934 this year. Mr. Bose ascribed the advancement in numbers to the growing number of women in the class over the past four years — from 31% to 38%. 
  • B-schools have taken proactive measures to resolve the issue of reducing the number of employed women enrolments. The outcome is bound to be promising for the women executives in India. 

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