Promoting Gender Diversity in the Business World

It is a well-known fact that women are greatly underrepresented in the business world. According to statistics, only 7.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 27% of Fortune 500 board members are women, despite comprising 51% of the population. This lack of gender parity is also evident in business schools, where the representation of women in top management institutes in India has received much attention in recent years. While some progress has been made in increasing the enrollment of women in these programs, there remains a significant gender gap in terms of representation at the top levels of management. In this article, we will explore reasons for this lack of representation and how it starts with the Common Admission Test (CAT) exam, a key entrance exam for many business schools in India. Data from the CAT exam shows that only 35% of the 2.22 lakh candidates who took the exam were women, while 65% were men and 4 candidates identified as transgender. In addition, there has not been a female topper for the past five years, with the last female candidate achieving a 100 percentile in 2017 among a group of 20 toppers.

The lack of representation of women in top management institutes is also evident in the enrollment data of the country’s premier business schools. According to data provided by these schools, the class of 2021 had a relatively low percentage of women enrolled. For example, IIM Indore had 42% women in its newest batch (199 out of 476), while IIM Bangalore and Lucknow had 37% (165 of 441 and 148 of 405, respectively). IIM Calcutta had 31% women (152 of 480), and IIM Kozhikode had 30% women (148 of 497).

There are a number of reasons why the representation of women in top management institutes in India is low, some of which include the following:

Gender stereotypes and biases: There are often gender stereotypes and biases that discourage women from pursuing careers in business or leadership roles or that view women as less capable or less committed to their careers compared to men. These biases may start as early as the business school application process and contribute to the low representation of women in top management institutes.

Lack of role models: When women do not see other women in leadership positions or in business school, they may feel discouraged or unsure of whether they can succeed in these fields. This lack of role models could also be considered as a contributing factor for the low representation of women in top management institutes.

Lack of support and resources: Women may also be disadvantaged by a lack of support and resources, such as a lack of mentorship or networking opportunities or resources to help them prepare for the CAT exam or business school.

Work-life balance: Many women need help to balance their career goals with their personal and family responsibilities, making it difficult to pursue an advanced degree or a career in a demanding field like business. This can contribute to the low representation of women in top management institutes.

In conclusion, while the representation of women in top management institutes in India still needs to be higher than desired, many efforts are underway to increase the number of women enrolled in these programs and create more inclusive and supportive environments for women in business. By addressing issues such as gender stereotypes and biases, providing role models and support, and promoting work-life balance, we can work towards a more diverse and equal business environment where women are able to succeed and reach their full potential.

“I think it’s a matter of knowing that you can do it,. What I’ve seen in my life as a professional woman is that we’re often our toughest critics, and we’re often the person that stands in our way the most.”

– Rebecca Mallen-Churchill, director of graduate student recruitment at Arizona State’s W.P. Carey School of Business

“When you have leaders that came from a program, really made it, and are giving back to female leaders of tomorrow, that’s a very enticing thing. Being able to put front and centre the female leaders that have been born through MBA programs, as well as those who live and work in business, has always been a key part”

– Liesl Riddle, associate dean of graduate programs at the George Washington University School of Business 

“An organisation can successfully recruit more women, but if those women are not thriving and not getting advancement opportunities, they’re not going to stay. It’s not enough to just bring in underrepresented populations; they also have to come in and feel as though they can thrive.”

– Shari Hubert, associate dean of admissions at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

There are already promising signs of progress, such as the increasing number of women taking the Common Admission Test (CAT) exam and the higher enrollment of women in business school programs. With continued efforts and a commitment to diversity and inclusion, we can create a business environment that is more representative of the talents and abilities of all individuals, regardless of gender.

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