There is a gender disparity at the highest levels of business leadership, and, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council, women make up a disproportionately low percentage of applicants to MBA programs. Some business schools are working to help women network and to overcome the biases that exist in the business world. "It isn't simply a case of getting talented women into business. It's a question of keeping them there and giving them the correct opportunities," said Forté Foundation CEO Elissa Ellis-Sangster.
Studies show that companies with gender-diverse leadership structures and boards outperform their less equitable rivals, writes Dana Theus. That's a sign companies can no longer afford to ignore the problems preventing women from rising through their ranks. "There's simply too much at stake now not to change," Theus writes.
More women than men now list having a high-paying career as a top priority, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. While they have become more career-focused, many women still say being a good parent is important to them. They "are not saying they want career success at the expense of these other things," said Pew's Kim Parker.
Research shows that more women are functioning as the primary breadwinners of their households, and women's business ownership has also increased. "We're now at a stage where women operating their own businesses are not unusual," said Julie Weeks of American Express OPEN. This business success is causing some couples to re-evaluate the way they approach household responsibilities.
Women often approach a boss to ask for a raise with tentative and apologetic language such as "I know you're busy," which makes it easy to turn them down, writes Mika Brzezinski, author of "Knowing Your Value." Top female leaders she interviewed for the book note men aren't hesitant and state they want a raise because they feel undervalued.
MBA hiring increased at PepsiCo this year and is expected to rise next year as well, said Lisa Ashworth, the company's director of campus recruiting. The best candidates have a few years of work experience and attended a top-ranked school. The majority of MBA interns employed by the company receive job offers, Ashworth said.
Recent research shows that women are more likely to engage in emotional eating when they feel burned out at work. You can help to prevent overeating by having meals away from your desk, according to Geneen Roth, who has written several books on eating habits.
Women see more benefits to online meetings than men do, according to a study by TeamViewer. Women are more likely than men to point to benefits such as savings on transportation costs, according to the study. They also tend to have higher standards for the hosts of such meetings.
Rather than trying to cover up your mistakes, it's a good idea to address them directly when applying to business schools, writes Stacy Blackman. For example, if there is a gap in your employment history, explain how you made productive use of the time. "We all fail sometimes, but the trick is to try to look at your failures through a fresh lens and figure out the good that came from it," she writes.
A large volume of business advice aimed at women plays on gender stereotypes, so it's important to expand the leadership conversation, write Athena Vongalis-Macrow and Andrea Gallant. "When examining, reporting, or discussing successful women, the emphasis needs to shift away from identifying them only from a gendered perspective and look more at the positive qualities they bring to the workplace," they write.
Women need a boisterous, obstreperous streak to succeed in the business world, many female executives say. Learning to "speak guy" without worrying too much about whether people think they're being too "pushy or bossy" is crucial for women in positions of authority, they explain. "I'm confident enough in my leadership ability to not worry about being liked or popular. That ship sailed a long time ago," says Performics CEO Daina Middleton.
If the thought of negotiating sends you into a panic, you're not alone. According to a LinkedIn survey, 39% of women are nervous about negotiating. To ace negotiating, add low- or no-cost incentives instead of lowering your rates, writes Jeff Haden. Also, maintain eye contact and come prepared with applicable numbers reflecting market trends.
Exclusively for MBA Women at Forté sponsor schools, this must-attend event taking place June 29 to 30 in Los Angeles will help define the shape of things to come as women cross the tipping point in influence, power and leadership.
2012 Forté Financial Services FAST Track Conference
Interested in a career in financial services? Get on the fast track and gain valuable insight into this exciting industry. The Financial Services FAST Track Conference June 4 to 5 in New York City provides an opportunity to explore the exciting world of Finance and the diverse career opportunities available in this industry. Apply now.
Forté Foundation is a consortium of leading multinational corporations,
top business schools in the U.S. and abroad, and the Graduate Management
Admission Council (GMAC). Forté has become a powerful change agent directing
women towards leadership roles in business and enabling corporations to more effectively
reach and retain top female talent. It is the only organization that provides a national
infrastructure for women at all stages of the career continuum to access the information,
scholarship support and networking connections they need to succeed in business careers.
Learn more at