Has the Pandemic Caused Women to Reconsider Whether to Go to Business Schools?

A new survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council finds that women are more likely than men to have reservations about enrolling in business schools in the wake of the COVID-10 pandemic.

Over the last decade, the percentage of women among all students who take the Graduate Management Admission Test has steadily climbed from 40 percent in 2009 to 47 percent in 2019. But past research has shown that women candidates are more likely to report certain barriers in their pursuit of graduate management education as compared to their male counterparts. These barriers, including factors such as admissions requirements, future debt burden, and confidence in their ability to be successful in the program, may derail their journey to business school.

Now new surveys taken during the pandemic show that women are more likely than men to be worried about their decision on whether or not to enroll in business schools.

On March 15, as state lockdowns were beginning and higher education was shutting down, the proportion of male and female candidates reporting that they were very concerned or extremely concerned about applying to business schools was similar and quite low. However, the degree of concern for women candidates continued to climb over time while it stabilized for male candidates. By April 30, 55 percent of women respondents were very concerned or extremely concerned due to the impact of COVID-19. In contrast, the degree of concern for male candidates ranged from 33 percent to 37 percent for the next three periods ending March 31, April 15, and April 30.

The Graduate Management Admission Council explains that “the recent survey snapshot to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on female candidates suggests that the virus has increased the number of barriers for women as they attempt to navigate the uncertainty. As a result, the gap between male and female enrollment in graduate management may widen. To ensure that business schools’ focused efforts in recent years to achieve gender parity are not lost, there is a need to understand the evolving journey of female candidates and pursue strategies that help maintain momentum.”

Filed Under: Professional SchoolsResearch/Study

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