Latest Research

Forté’s 2023 Report Reveals Record-Breaking Success: Women in Full-Time MBA Programs on the Rise

Achievement of Gender Parity and Increased Representation in Schools

Women’s enrollment in full-time MBA programs reached a record 42%, marking an increase from 41% in 2022, 38% in 2018, and 34% in 2013.

Five business schools achieved gender parity, a significant milestone for Forté, with three more schools closely trailing. This contrasts with the progress made in 2022 when only three schools reached gender parity and just one in 2018.

Thirty-four out of 58 Forté partner business schools reported 40% or more women enrolled, demonstrating a substantial increase from 27 in 2022 and 19 in 2018.

“There’s a lot of places you could go to get an MBA,” Forté CEO, Elissa Sangster, tells Fortune. “There’s a lot of pathways to the top, but we know that the women who are pursuing business leadership, that the MBA is a significant pathway into those top companies, top jobs that have the top pay, and that’s important to make sure that there’s equitable representation of women in business school.”

Profiles of Success

The report showcases the five schools that achieved gender parity in 2023:  George Washington University, Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania, and Penn State University. Additionally, three schools were close behind, and seven more achieved 45% or above women’s enrollment in full-time MBA programs. 

“The 50-50 is representative of a pathway into business leadership,” Sangster tells the Wall Street Journal. “If we don’t see women having equal access to those opportunities, that means they don’t get that education, they don’t get that job post-M.B.A., they don’t get that salary.” 

Our research reveals that almost half of the women CEOs at leading companies, inclusive of the Fortune 500 and S&P 500 lists, hold an MBA or equivalent advanced degree in business. 

Global Impact

Non-U.S. business schools saw an increase of over three percentage points in women’s enrollment, aligning them with U.S. schools for the first time since we started reporting in 2011.

Our 2023 Women’s MBA Enrollment report successfully garnered significant media coverage with 37 stories and nearly 500 million impressions on women’s enrollment, featured in prestigious outlets like The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Fast Company, BBC Radio, Yahoo! Finance, Daily Mail, Bloomberg Radio, and BizWomen. The impact extended globally, with the WSJ story reaching news organizations in India, China, Russia, Sweden, and Turkey, subsequently influencing coverage by the Daily Mail and BBC.

The Road to Gender Parity

While achieving gender equity in business remains an uphill climb, the report highlights the efforts of Forté, its partner schools, and companies in impacting the increase in women pursuing business careers and leadership roles.

We can improve diversity in these programs by helping more college and early-career women build skills for today’s workplace. Let’s encourage these future leaders to explore industries, rethink what can be achieved, and take a proactive role in accelerating their careers. 

“We know from much of the research that’s been done that when you have diverse leadership you see better bottom line(s), better return on equity, better return on investment, you see better decisions being made,” Sangster tells BBC Radio. “So, the future of the U.S. economy should be bright if that is reflected in those leadership positions in business.”

Embracing Future Opportunities

Our 2023 Women’s MBA Enrollment report is a testament to the 20 years of progress made in advancing women in business education and leadership. As MBA programs continue to play a crucial role in shaping business leaders, the report also signifies a positive shift toward increased gender diversity, providing a promising outlook for the future of women in the C-suite, on boards, and in the rest of the business world.

At Forté, we believe the best way to launch women into fulfilling, successful careers is by providing them with access to business education, professional development, and a community of supportive women. We are well aware that there is more progress to be made. Enduring partnerships are the foundation of our work. How can you show your support for #MoreWomenLeading? Invest in them.

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