Review: Imperial College Business School

Stats: Percentage of female participation - Faculty 32%, Students 45%, Board 45%

For our first review we chose Imperial College Business school, which is ranked 35th in the Financial Times full time MBA rankings. I have, however, included a short synopsis at the end on Grenoble Business School as they have some impressive stats for their EMBA programme.

How do we choose a school to highlight?

We believe getting more female students into business schools will help get more women into management and leadership positions overall. But simply increasing the enrollment of female students in these schools is not enough. We believe that female students also need to see themselves in the faculty and in the administration running the school. In short, they need to see female role models. And this is not just about women; men need to see and read women as leaders too. Business schools need to model diversity of leadership by showing men and women as leaders. Schools that are serious about gender equality tend to have higher stats across all three areas: students, faculty and board members.

So when reviewing schools, we look at the percentage of female students, faculty and board members. We also review what they state on their websites and how serious they seem about achieving gender parity.

Imperial College Business School

Imperial College Business School is based in London with approx. 299 students in their full time MBA programme.

The management school originated in 1987, and the MBA programme followed in 1989. It became the Imperial College Business School in 2008.

Imperial College Business School is aspiring to get more women into leadership in business through the business school path. It is leading by example. In the 2016 FT rankings the school is reported to have 45% female students, 45% female board members and 32% female faculty. Lancaster Business School and Harvard are not far behind; however, Imperial has higher percentages across the three areas.

Imperial has a Bronze Athena Swan Award. This award is given to higher education institutions that are recognised for advancing gender equality across STEM subjects and now across the humanities, too. This includes gender equality among students and faculty. Diane Walker, associate dean of programmes, is also on the board of the Forte Foundation, which is a non-profit that helps women lead happy and fulfilling lives through business. The school is also a member of the 30% club. Imperial offers many scholarships to women across a number of programmes; we know that being able to financially afford a business school degree is often cited as one of the hindrances to female student enrollment. The school also runs a number of workshops to assist women in achieving their potential, such as “The Althea-Imperial Programme – A programme to equip women with the skills and support required to develop enterprising ideas”.

In terms of exiting salary, those leaving Imperial are said to increase their salary by 83%, which is not one of the highest rates in the FT table. It is our belief that this is still a hangover from the gender pay gap and that women are still leaving schools on lower salaries than their male peers.

It seems to us, however, that Imperial is making a concerted effort to achieve gender parity in all areas of the school. For this, we must praise and thank them.

Recognising Grenoble Ecole De Management

Finally, the execMBA area is an even tougher area for women to participate in as you can see in our review of this sector further in the newsletter. Timing, expense and balancing work and life expectations tend to be the main reasons this degree is hard for women to pursue. The latest FT rankings show Grenoble Ecole De Management achieving staggering numbers, with 52% female student enrolment, 44% female faculty and 59% female board members (executive committee).  Really well done to Grenoble Ecole De Management!


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