Thirty years ago, Naina Lal Kidwai was the first Indian woman to graduate from Harvard Business School. She inspired many to follow in her footsteps. Recently two Indian women made it to the Forbes list of billionaire heiresses. Roshni Nadar, daughter of Shiv Nadar, founder of HCL, is a graduate from Kellogg. Nisha Godrej is a graduate of Wharton. In 2009 alone, 105,000 women wrote the GMAT. 35% of the incoming class at top schools now consist of women, and the numbers are rising.
Yet, even with these heiresses going overseas, Indian women are less than 20% of all Indians going to business school. Why ?
Why is the MBA not popular with Indian women ?
We’ve talked to many women. Although there has been a substantial increase in the number of female MBA graduates around the globe yet, many refrain from doing an MBA for several reasons. The first issue is timing. Business schools require 3-4 years of work experience, which may conflict with the time that women are facing family pressures related to marriage. Going overseas for an MBA is also sometimes hard for protective Indian parents. A third one may relate to how business schools are incorrectly perceived as male bastions with a focus on networking. Most women we know cringe at the thought of hanging out in bars and jostling with recruiters for attention. All these issues are fixable.
Tell your family
Talk to your parents early if you wish to attend business school. If they know that this is your dream, when you actually want to go, you?re likely to face less resistance.
Women should plan to apply after two years of working. Thoughtful, well-presented applications after only two years of working can be successful for women (but not men).
Don?t sweat the GMAT
We have observed that the average GMAT scores can also be somewhat lower than men with similar backgrounds, because women present an added component of improving diversity. The scarcity factor helps.
Business schools are very welcoming of women
Banish the fears about business school. Business schools are diverse, progressive and encouraging of equality of sexes. It would help to visit the school, talk to women alumni and current female students, to learn about their experiences. There may even be scholarships. Forte Foundation sponsors women to get an MBA. Richard Ivey School of business and Harvard Business School have coordinated with IIM- B and Indian School of Business to bring more people from India especially women to top B schools. Clubs abound. HBS has a Women’s Student Association. LBS has a Women in Business club which inspires and empower women to realize their dreams.
Scholarships for women
Some universities abroad offer scholarships only to women. One such B school is London Business School. Scholarships at LBS like Citi Foundation Scholarship and Deutsche Bank Women’s Scholarship Programme and more are exclusively for women. Columbia Business Financial Women?s Association Scholarship to the women who wish to join CBS.
Why women should go for MBA?
An MBA brings excellent skills that can be helpful in five ways. Firstly, it creates a strong business network that will be useful to you, without having to do a lot of networking. Business school allows you to pick up the phone and call anyone you want. Secondly, it gives careers the much needed boost. Thirdly, it really opens up opportunities for very interesting careers as entrepreneurs, social leaders, consultants, consumer goods, marketing, advertising and human resources. Fourthly, should you choose to step out of the rat race, and start your own company, an MBA brings credibility, skills and an ease in getting started, getting loans etc. Lastly, women who take a break from the
workplace should see an MBA as a ticket to return to the workplace after a while because the degree is well understood and you have a network of alumni who would be very helpful and understanding.
Famous Indian Women who are MBAs
- Indra Nooyi, Chairman & CEO, Pepsi (Yale MBA)
- Naina Lal Kidwai, Deputy CEO, HSBC, (MBA, Harvard Business School)
- Lalita D Gupte, JMD, ICICI Bank (MBA, Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies)
- Renuka Ramnath, Former CEO, ICICI Ventures (University of Bombay MBA)
- Sulajja Firodia Motwani, JMD, Kinetic Engineering (Carnegie Mellon MBA)
B-School % of women
MIT Sloan 35
Women are empowered with better skills than men that make them excellent managers – more patient listeners, and likely to create a more nurturing team environment. India has many women leaders. While we have named just a few, we believe that many more should get an MBA, and join the ranks of India?s future women leaders.