Lack of Representation: Minorities and Women in Business School

Posted on February 24, 2009 | Filed in MBA

The numbers of women and minorities in MBA programs remain low. Overall, women make up approximately half of the population and only about 30% of top MBA programs. Minorities make up about a third of the population of the United States, and yet only 7% of top MBA programs. Many schools and organizations are working to improve these numbers.


Minorities, especially African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, are not well-represented in business schools across the United States. The reason for their low numbers has to do with many complicated factors—including historical, social, and educational ones. The National Society of Hispanic MBA’s suggests that the lack of representation in business school is due to a lack of role models, difficulties financing the degree, and lack of knowledge about the worth of an MBA (compared to the clear understanding of what a Medical degree or Law degree leads to). The National Society of Hispanic MBA’s and the National Black MBA Association are also working to increase the numbers of minority MBAs through grants and scholarships, mentor programs, GMAT preparation assistance, and admissions consulting.


Women too are not well-represented in business schools across the United States. Interestingly, women do make up an equal proportion of undergraduate business graduates, but somehow these numbers drop dramatically in MBA education. The most commonly suggested reasons are concerns in the late twenties and early thirties about starting families and the “biological clock.” Law and medical schools tend to attract younger applicants and thus maintain pretty much equal proportions of men and women. However, some schools, in particular Dartmouth’s Tuck Business School, have noticed an increase in the number of women attending. Through mentor programs and an impressive female alumni network, Tuck Women in Business has been successful at increasing their proportion of women to 33% more than any other business school. The lack of women in MBA programs contributes to a lack of women later on in corporate leadership roles. There are currently approximately 11 women CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, but groups like Tuck Women in Business are working to improve these numbers in the future by providing women with mentors and encouragement to return to or stay in the business world as they fulfill family roles.

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