Women Make Up Historic 42% of MBA Enrollment in 2023: Report

The Forté Foundation's 58 high-power member schools reported an all-time high of 42% enrolled women in their master of business administration (MBA) programs.
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Published on November 6, 2023
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  • The Forté Foundation's member schools reported that 42% of their full-time master of business administration students were women in 2023.
  • That number has grown significantly over the last decade, rising from 34% in 2013.
  • The Forté Foundation's 58 member schools include some of the most prestigious in the world, and several have already achieved gender parity.
  • Forté Foundation leaders underscored the importance of MBA gender parity in boosting women's access to leadership positions.

The percentage of women enrolled in master of business administration (MBA) programs hit an all-time high of 42% in 2023, according to a new report from the Forté Foundation.

The Forté Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to boost business leadership opportunities for women through education and professional development access, has reported consistent increases in the percentage of women enrolled in its member schools' MBA programs in recent years.

The percentage of women enrolled in full-time MBA programs was 34% in 2013, according to a Forté Foundation press release, but rose to 41% by 2022.

Our efforts over the past two decades, along with our member schools and companies, have significantly impacted the increase in women interested in business careers and advancing to leadership, Forté Foundation CEO Elissa Sangster said in the release. Every year we see about a percentage point gain in women's enrollment and trust me it's not easy to achieve.

The Forté Foundation's 58 member schools include some of the most prestigious institutions across the country and globe. These high-power MBA programs can open doors for women, who are still underrepresented in CEO positions.

Master of business administration programs can lead to career mobility, advancement, and a high return on investment for students. Women who earn the valuable degree still face an uphill battle, however: The Forté Foundation previously found that factors like underrepresentation in high-paying industries and barriers to negotiation lead to pay gaps for women MBA graduates.

Sangster underscored the importance of MBA gender parity in helping women access key leadership positions.

Getting to gender parity in MBA programs is an uphill climb but it's critical to drive change and help more women lead in the C-suite, on boards, and as business owners, Sangster said in the release.

Five of the Forté Foundation's member schools achieved gender parity in 2023, with the George Washington University School of Business achieving the highest percentage of women by a wide margin at 65%.

George Washington has long led the pack in the percentage of women enrolled in a full-time MBA program.

More important than the numbers is that we have a culture that is open, inviting and helpful and creates a positive learning environment for all of our students, George Washington MBA Director Susan Kulp said in a release earlier this year. When you see a lot of people like you in a room it makes you more comfortable and more outspoken and more able to take advantage of everything that's offered.

The other four Forté Foundation schools that achieved gender parity include:

  • The Oxford University Saïd Business School at 51%
  • The Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School at 51%
  • The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School at 50%
  • The Pennsylvania State University Smeal College of Business at 50%

Oxford University officials said in October that achieving gender parity was a milestone for both the school and all of Europe.

Business schools like Oxford Saïd can help create a climate for change by aspiring for equal numbers of male and female students in our MBA class, and by doing all we can to create a truly diverse community with a multitude of backgrounds, Kathy Harvey, associate dean of MBA and executive degrees at Oxford Saïd, said in a release at the time.

Other Forté Foundation member schools that were very close to achieving MBA gender parity include the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management at 48% women enrolled, as well as the University of Rochester Simon School of Business and the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management, which each had 49%.