If you are a woman interested in management education, you’re in good company: A record-breaking 106,800 women took the GMAT exam in testing year 2011, making it the third year in a row that women broke the 100,000 mark.
Today, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re reminded of the many ways that women are changing the face of graduate management education and bringing their unique talents and gifts to the workplace.
Willing and Able
The global marketplace is undeniably hungry for talented entrepreneurs, innovators, and business leaders and women are eager to fill those roles quickly. In fact, many women are taking the GMAT exam at their earliest opportunity: Last year 45% of women taking the exam were younger than 24.
These women aren’t just banking good scores for an undefined future; they’re moving! Women are seizing the opportunity to earn an MBA or business master’s degree at a much faster rate than men, knocking on b-school doors a full seven months sooner, on average, from completing their first degree to submitting an application.
A Deep International Talent Pool
US women represent the largest share of GMAT testing volume among women worldwide, but, proportionally, women from East and Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe are leading the way. By country/region, women in 2011 made up 64% of all GMAT test takers in China, 61% in Vietnam, 58% each in Taiwan and Thailand, and 57% in Russia.
Women Encouraged to Apply
If you’ve registered for the GMAT exam but still have doubts about your readiness for b-school and all it entails, we have some data that can allay your concerns:
- Schools want you. Management programs worldwide are boosting their efforts to recruit women candidates. In 2011, 70% of full-time MBA programs, half of master’s in accounting, and nearly a quarter of master’s in finance programs that participated in our survey research made special efforts to recruit more female applicants.
- Businesses need you. Management skills and gender diversity are on the corporate agenda. Dozens of countries, particularly those in Europe, are establishing guidelines or regulations for increasing women’s representation on corporate boards of directors. These equality initiatives are backed with good business sense: A recent Catalyst study of businesses showed that companies with more women in top leadership spots outperform those with fewer and that gender diversity in the boardroom translates to stronger corporate performance.
- An MBA or master’s business degree is one of the surest ways to accelerate your career trajectory, lifetime earnings, economic security, and professional development. Of women graduates we talked to in 2011, the majority said their degrees provided a competitive advantage (84%), improved their chances of finding the job that met their expectations (84%), prepared them to meet today’s job market challenges (82%), and introduced them to new career opportunities (73%).
But don’t take it just from us. See what women b-school grads have to say about their programs and follow their lead. Prep now for the GMAT exam!