Women Who Know Their Business

There have always been strong women leaders, but they have been in the minority – exceptions to the rule. The number of women taking MBA (Master of Business Administration) courses globally for the past few years has been depressingly low – around 30%. This changed last year, as a record 43% of the total applications for the Graduate Management Admission Test. Despite this, many women are dominating their industries and rising to the top quickly. The role of women in business is changing and there is increased support for this evolution.

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, is a prime example of these women leaders. She was the first female engineer at Google and at just 37, she is the youngest Fortune 500 company’s CEO. Ladies who have MBAs are paving the way for other women to hold very high positions in their sectors. Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard has an MBA and a degree in economics from Princeton University in America. Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, with an MBA from Harvard. The MBA course originated in the USA, so it’s not surprising that these women are all American. Elsewhere, examples include Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, who seems to hold the hands of the male leaders of Europe – described as the de facto leader of the European Leader and Forbes magazine’s second most powerful person in the world.

A Highly Competitive Environment

MBA course applications from women have increased over the last year, possibly inspired by the increase of women leaders in many industries. Many women had previously been put off by the highly competitive environment and the heavy emphasis put on the number work and quantitative analysis rather than the qualities that are vital for a good manager – leadership, communication and people skills. The types of MBA course these days are more flexible and conducive with what women want and the skills that they can bring to the table.

To find their perfect course, more women are travelling abroad to study. The London Business School now sees the number of women coming from China to study outstrip the number of men. International business experience is incredibly important for women wishing to hold positions of power in their industry. Europe seems to be the destination of choice for women. According to a survey carried out by the Forté Foundation, 80% of North American women choose to study in Europe for the networking opportunities and 91% said it was because of the diversity of their classmates. If you want to be noticed quickly by employers, demonstrating a global awareness and ability will give you a distinct advantage.

Cary Cooper, Distinguished Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management School believes, “Deep down men are less self-confident that they tend to talk themselves up. Women, meanwhile, are more likely to be content that they have done a good job without needing to shout about it.” Take the Femina Index, (created by a man to shout about the achievements of women in business!) it has concluded that a higher percentage of women on senior management teams perform better in the stock market than their male-dominated counterparts.

There is still a long way to go – a 2012 analysis of the top 50 UK companies by the Guardian, only 14% of the top positions were filled by women. There is support, however, in the form of organisations like Women on Boards, a mentorship programme that creates pathways into leadership positions. MBA Women International (USA based) seeks to support women when they embark on their careers – providing networking and skills development and continual professional development and opportunity. As Madeleine Albright famously said, women who don’t help other women will end up in a special place called hell.

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Author: Jenn is a graduate who has worked globally. With an understanding of business and a Telegraph MBA course under her graduate hat she is able to offer advice. Let us know about your successful experience that has led you to succeed.

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