Feminist Gloria Steinem says that in 2015, female ambition is still interpreted as aggression. Steinem says, “if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, you get to be a loud black woman or a bitchy white woman.” And she is right. It’s no more apparent than in the business world.
According to recent reports, the gender gap in the McCombs School of Business MBA program is narrowing. This seems to be great news — as long as you don’t look at the actual numbers.
Only 32 percent of those currently in McCombs’ MBA class of 2017 are women. Only 29 percent of the applicants for the 2017 class were women to begin with. While we should not dismiss the decreased imbalance, we should remember that, even with “improvement,” less than a third of McCombs’ 2017 MBA graduates will be women.
These numbers show that many women are still hesitant to enter the business world for a variety of reasons. It is important to note that some women simply don’t have an interest in business. However, those who have chosen the field, such as accounting freshman Yuxi Li, said that women in business have had to deal with certain challenges.
“In business, sexism is more apparent than I’ve ever experienced,” Li said. “Friends of mine have practiced trying to make their voices lower and more authoritative. And I’ve been told that I look a little too ‘cute’ to do the job I want to pursue.”
It is ridiculous that some people still subscribe to the theory that women are not qualified enough for jobs in the business world simply because they have a higher voice or look more feminine than men. Unfortunately, when a woman is trying to decide whether or not to attend business school or pursue a related job, such attitudes can easily turn her away from the profession.
However, there are ways that women can be given support in business schools. Marketing sophomore Han Nguyen said that she has had great experiences with women’s groups within McCombs, and that spreading the word about these groups could help more women receive support.
“There are already organizations such as the Women in Business Organization and the Womens’ Business Council,” Nguyen said. “A thing that could help is encouraging them to do more high profile events and increase club membership. Many of the successful clubs in McCombs are very active and host many professional events as well as case competitions.”
Business schools could also actively recruit more women. While many schools have instituted quotas as a means of narrowing existing gender gaps, other schools have taken a more personal approach by asking current female students and prospective applicants about how to improve their experiences. This method allows women to talk about what challenges are facing them instead of just being treated like a check mark for diversity.
Gender diversity in business schools is increasing and we shouldn’t discount that fact. However, there are still obstacles that women in business face. We need to ensure that any woman who wants to go to business school will get the support she desires and not get called a “bitch” for pursuing her dreams.
Dolan is a journalism sophomore from Abilene. Follow Dolan on Twitter @mimimdolan.