All over the world, the percentage of female participants in EMBAs increases. However, there is still work to be done. Can Universities and EMBA programs make the change?
On the 8th of March, it is always easy to celebrate women but... are some flowers at the office - probably offered by your most sexist coworker - really enough to bury the hatchet? Where do Executive MBA programs stand on gender equality?
According to the Executive MBA Council, in 2021, only the 33 percent of the participants enrolled in an Executive MBA Programme across the world were women – compared to 30 percent in 2017. Although this percentage is at its highest ever, it is undeniable that there is still a lot of work to do to achieve gender equality.
If it is true that several EMBA programs, such as ours, are doing their best for increasing the proportion of female students, there are still several external and societal factors determining gender disparity in EMBA programs. First of all – and this is a problem as old as time – as family and household duties very often still fall on women only, the work-life balance easily becomes an impossible task to achieve for women whose days have only 24 hours - exactly as men's days.
Another potential setback - and unfortunately a consequence of a much bigger problem - is the fact that EMBA programs are very often an important expense to face. Even though gender pay gap may have reduced in the last few years, it is still a reality for a lot of women on the workplace. It is no wonder then that that supporting an important expense as an EMBA may be more daunting for women than for men.
On the top of all that, let’s not forget that EMBA programs are essentially addressed to executives. Despite an increasing number of female executives – 19% in Switzerland in 2021, female executive are as a matter of fact still one of a kind.
At the HEC Lausanne Executive MBA we do our best every year to have the most diverse but gender balanced class. With an average of 48% of female participants in the last two years classes, we are very happy and proud to be higher than the world average.
We like to think that the gender diversity participants can find in our programme is not only a valuable asset, but also the reflection of a society that is changing - although not at the pace we would like to. So, let’s put those freshly received flowers in water, roll up our sleeves and get ready: 48% is not 50% and here at HEC Lausanne Executive MBA there is still also a lot of work to be done.
Happy International Women's Day!