SOM tends to make progress on gender balance

On Thursday, the SOM will host a panel of female alumnae at the Yale Club in New York City for women interested in applying to the school’s MBA program.

Previously, the school’s annual “Fall Friday” provided female applicants to the SOM an opportunity to tour Yale, attend student panels and hear about the SOM curriculum. The SOM also annually awards several Forté Fellowships to female applicants and organizes admissions visits to women’s colleges such as Wellesley, Bryn Mawr and Barnard to garner the interest of younger prospective students, the SOM Director of Community and Inclusion Tiffany Gooden said. Gooden was the first person to be appointed to the role six weeks ago, which she said was created this fall to initiate more programming to engage underrepresented populations, including women.

Beyond recruitment, Gooden said the SOM is looking to create more strategic programming for its female students to improve the gender imbalance at the school. The SOM Associate Dean Anjani Jain, however, said the imbalance is a systemic problem at most business schools.

“It’s true for potentially all business schools that the gender ratio is very unbalanced,” Jain said. “It’s been a consistent problem for business schools and the SOM too does not have a balanced gender ratio.”

Still, Jain said the SOM has one of the largest numbers of female applicants among United States business schools. Female students at the SOM, he added, have been shown to perform equally or better academically as their male counterparts. In addition, Jain said, the presence of women in extracurricular groups has actually overrepresented the school’s female population. With 569 members, the SOM’s Women in Management group is the school’s largest student club, Gooden said.

Alexa Allen SOM ’15, the school’s third female Student Government President in a row, said she has not found SOM’s gender imbalance to inhibit her ability as a student leader.

Allen added that because she worked in finance before coming to the SOM, she did not find an environment with a male majority jarring. Nevertheless, she said she has been impressed by the SOM’s gender equality, which she attributed to the nature of the school.

“I think [being student government president is] kind of a gender blind role at the SOM,” she said. “I don’t think people think of me as a male president or a female president.”

Gigi Zhang SOM ’15 also said she found the SOM to be virtually indifferent to gender and that she hasn’t seen any kind of differentiation between male and female students.

But Susannah Harris SOM ’16, who spent last year as part of a female student majority at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as part of her joint degree, said even though she has not faced any particular challenges due to gender at the SOM, she has not found the school to be completely gender-blind. She added that the majority of women at the SOM also tend to be international students.

“I wasn’t really aware of being a woman in my classes [at FES], and I think I have been a little bit this year just because I tend to be in the minority, but it’s also been coupled with the fact that I’m often the only female and American in a group,” she said.

Within the SOM faculty, the gender imbalance is more prominent than among students. About 25 percent of the faculty is female, excluding affiliated faculty members, while the proportion of female students is 37 percent.

The SOM professor Amandine Ody-Brasier said her department, Organizational Behavior, has almost an equal gender ratio, while most other departments have less balance. Even still, she said the overall gender imbalance at the SOM has negatively affected her experience at the school.

Ody-Brasier also said that while the move to the new building could have provided facilities for working mothers in the faculty, these plans did not come to fruition.

“When we moved into [Evans Hall] there were discussions about having day care and a lactation room, and I think the fact that there are so few of us [women] is the reason why it didn’t go through,” she said.

Though the SOM professor Fiona Scott Morton said she would like to see more women on the SOM faculty, she thinks this problem will be ameliorated as more junior women on the SOM faculty move up the academic pipeline.

In January 2014, the SOM professor Constance Bagley sued the SOM Dean Edward Snyder and two faculty members, alleging she was fired because of gender animus against her.

The environment the SOM provides for women came under scrutiny last January, when Constance Bagley, a professor in the practice of law and management at the School of Management sued the University and three high-profile faculty members at the SOM. In the suit, Bagley claimed that she was not reappointed to her professorship in May 2012 because of her gender and age.

The SOM has been coed since its founding in 1976.

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