Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gender parity rules in top B-schools

The top three IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) have announced that they are increasing the intake of women students this year, but gender diversity is something other top-rung B-schools can boast of having had since much earlier.

Business schools such as the Indian School of Business (ISB), and Chennai’s Great Lakes Institute of Management (GLIM) are not in the high league of the IIMs, but from their initial years these institutes have taken in a higher proportion of women students. Delhi University’s Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) and XLRI, Jamshedpur have also experienced this diversity for a few years now.

Over the years, these B-schools have contributed powerful women business leaders to the world including Leena Nair, Global Senior Vice-President for leadership and organisation development at Unilever. 43-year-old Nair is an XLRI alumna, from the 1992 batch. FMS also boasts of popular alumnae. Neelam Dhawan, Managing Director of HP India, is one of them.

At ISB, women account for 25 per cent of the current batch. In 2013 it was 28 per cent. ISB has maintained the percentage of women students at 26-29 per cent for the past few years. “We encourage more women to apply to our full-time management programme during the admissions information sessions,” says V. K. Menon, Senior Director of Careers, Admissions and Financial Aid at ISB. He adds that the institute doesn’t have any special criteria for women and that there is a stringent and bias-free admissions process.

GLIM says gender diversity is important and the institute constantly strives to take more female students every year by making slight changes in the weightage. Though it refuses to divulge details, it says all factors being equal, girls are to be given preference. The percentage of women in GLIM’s PGPM batch has dropped from 33 per cent last year to 25 per cent this year.

At FMS, the number of women in the 2013 batch was 53 out of 215. The number fell to 41 out of 219 students in 2014. The 2015 batch, however, can see an increase in the number of girls once again. The records show that the number of women admitted to business schools other than IIMs is not low the past few years. According to Madhu Vij, a senior faculty at FMS Delhi, the majority of CAT-top-percentile holders are male students and this could be the reason for fewer girls entering the IIMs.

Family pressures
Ravneet Bawa, an ISB student, who has almost 12 years of experience in the IT industry, and who stays on the school’s Mohali campus with her one-year-old child, has a different take on the issue. “Women, after a while, tend to divert attention from their careers owing to family commitments,” says Bawa, who also heads ISB’s Women in Business initiative. “With the help of our alumni, we at ISB are trying to create a support system that allows women to get through the difficult times when they can keep that great job and climb up the leadership ladder,” she adds.

The alumnae of the new Gurgaon-based School of Inspired Leadership endorse this view. “Soon after a career of three-and-a-half years, I realised my core strength was management and decided to write the GMAT,” says Suchita, who is now working as consultant with TCS, Chennai. “In most cases a woman’s career goes for a toss after she gets involved in her married life and kids, and I wanted to complete my post-graduation well before getting married.”

About 38 per cent of the current batch in this school comprises women. Last year they made up 30 per cent. The much-older XLRI Jamshedpur has maintained a better percentage of women over the years. The 2014 batch of XLRI’s PGDBM batch has around 16 per cent of women students but for the HR course it’s higher at 39 per cent

Source: The Hindu Business Line, June 25, 2013

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