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Business leaders: Resetting the gender balance

News story

MBAs provide a platform for learning a broad range of leadership skills. Graduates can apply these skills in their current employment, including the ability to approach a wide array of projects from a functional standpoint, to communicate well, and to not only analyse problems and find solutions, but to pitch them, sell them and build interest.

Businesswoman using laptop in office

Surprisingly, the uptake of MBAs amongst women is comparatively low, with males comprising seven in ten graduates. According to research conducted by the Macquarie Graduate School of Management, two primary barriers are preventing women from studying an MBA: cost and time. Balancing busy lifestyles with work and family coupled with the financial costs of an MBA turn women off postgraduate study, which in turn leads to less women with the credentials to take on leadership roles.

To reset the gender balance, and help women overcome these barriers, Curtin is working with businesses to offer 30 scholarships for women to take an MBA in partnership with their employer. Each scholarship from the Curtin Business School is worth $20,000, with the corporate partner contributing a further amount of support including a minimum of $10,000 per recipient.

These scholarships form part of the broader Women in MBA (WiMBA) program, a collaboration between business and five of Australia’s leading business schools including Curtin University, the University of South Australia, Monash Business School, Sydney Business School and the Macquarie Graduate School of Management. Together they aim to raise the percentage of female MBA students in Australia to 40 per cent over the next two years. Ms Sharon Warburton, Executive Director Strategy & Finance, Brookfield Multiplex Australasia, has been appointed as the patron for the CBS WiMBA program. Ms Warburton, CBS Alumna, was the 2014 Telstra Business Women of the Year and is delighted to be involved as she is passionate about educating and empowering women. She also mentors many women through her online mentoring toolkit steelheels.com.au.

Pro Vice-Chancellor, Curtin Business School Professor Tony Travaglione believes the program breaks down barriers to study and will give women more opportunities to take on future leadership roles.

“We are acutely aware of the need to encourage and equip women for leadership roles,” says Professor Travaglione. “We believe that the introduction of scholarships specifically for women will encourage our business community to create the next generation of female leaders.”

Studies show that companies with gender diversity at the top drive better financial performance, and through WiMBA, employers can nominate women within their workforce who they believe are potential future leaders of the company.

These women will receive financial support through scholarships and employer contributions, and have the support from their employer to attend classes, take additional study and group work, and complete assignments. The nominees will also receive guidance and advice from in-house mentors and will be assisted with developing a post-MBA career pathway.

Dean of the Curtin Graduate School of Business Milé Terziovski said the WiMBA program could have a significant impact on increasing the number of women completing MBAs and moving into leadership roles later in their careers.

“MBA programs can be a springboard to senior leadership positions,” says Professor Terziovski. “They provide worthwhile, purposeful skill learning that women can apply to their workplace.”

Interested employer partners or candidates should contact Curtin Graduate School of Business:

Tel: +61 8 9266 3460
Email: enquiries@gsb.curtin.edu.au
Web: gsb.curtin.edu.au