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Case-Writing Competition: The Case for Women

Top business schools are making progress on gender parity by increasing the number of women students enrolled, but that’s not the only place on campus where gender representation matters. Lesley Symons was a Masters EMCCC student at INSEAD when she noticed the lack of women featured in the case studies used in her classes. Inspired by the Bechdel Test, she created the “Symons Test.” To pass, a case study must have a woman protagonist and she must speak to another woman about the business. In 10 years of research, Symons found that only 4% of award-winning case papers met her qualifications.

Women students deserve better representation in their class materials. Forté CEO Elissa Sangster says, “Case studies are one of the primary teaching tools that professors use in business school. In order to reflect the variety of leadership styles that students might encounter in their post-MBA careers, it’s important for case studies to feature women leaders who have unique approaches to leadership and decision-making. Women students need to be inspired by seeing other women in these leadership roles, and men students need to be comfortable with leaders who may think and act differently from them.”

To encourage the development of high-quality teaching case material that positively portrays real women in leadership positions, Forté, The Case for Women, and Emerald Publishing have partnered to launch a new case-writing competition. “The goal of this case-writing competition is to encourage the writing of more cases that feature a female protagonist. Surprisingly, this hasn’t happened as quickly as it should have, so we are providing incentives for case writers to do this important work. Emerald Publishing will take all of the cases submitted that meet a certain criteria and curate them into a journal. If successful, we hope to continue this on an annual basis,” says Sangster.

A total of $10,000 will be awarded, with prizes for the overall winner and two runners-up. All submitted cases will be published in Emerald Publishing’s eCase Collection.

Judging Criteria

  • Cases should have a female protagonist
  • Her characteristics as a leader should be described in a positive way
  • There should be a general balance of genders across the characters in the paper. (This does not need to be precise although an approximate range of between 60:40 either way is considered balanced)
  • The female protagonist should speak to another woman about the business
  • Ideally, the industry or setting of the case should not fall into one of the “Four F” categories: food, family, fashion and furniture. This is not a mandatory requirement.

Have a great case in mind? View the full submission guidelines and submit your case study by the September 1, 2020 deadline.

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