Canadian Executives Unaware of Gender Gap in Business Schools

Posted on April 7, 2008

Eight in 10 Executives Overestimate Female Enrolment in MBA Programs

TORONTO, ON, April 7, 2008 – A new poll of 400 Canadian business leaders commissioned by Queen’s School of Business shows that the vast majority of executives are unaware of the significant gender gap in Canadian MBA programs. On average, approximately one quarter (25 percent) of the total student body enrolled in Canadian MBA programs is female, but eight in ten executives estimate that number to be higher — often much higher.

Four out of ten executives (39 percent) totally overshoot the mark, pegging the female quotient of MBA students at 50 percent or more. Interestingly, 85 percent of female executives overestimate the percentage of women enrolled in Canadian MBA programs versus just 78 percent of their male counterparts.

“There’s a fifty percent chance the next baby born in Canada will be female, but her odds of getting an MBA aren’t nearly as good — and that’s a problem we’re trying to remedy at Queen’s,” said David Saunders, Dean of Queen’s School of Business. “Canadian executives — including female executives — clearly have no concept of how few women are pursuing the crucial business training that comes with an MBA. It’s time for corporations and business schools to start encouraging and supporting the other half of the population to succeed in business.”

When informed of the actual percentage of females enrolled in MBA programs (approximately 25 percent), three quarters (74 percent) of executives describe this gender imbalance as a “very significant” or “somewhat significant” problem for Canada. However, there is a noticeable difference of opinion on the subject between male and female executives: while 86 percent of female executives describe the imbalance as problematic, just 69 percent of males feel the same way. One in ten male executives (11 percent) even describes the situation as “not at all significant” compared with just two percent of females who say the same.

This gender imbalance echoes a finding in a 2006 Queen’s School of Business survey, when more than half (56 percent) of the women in senior level positions said there are multiple barriers to female enrolment in MBA programs versus just 30 percent of men in senior positions who felt the same way. The obstacles most often cited by women were family responsibilities (36 percent), lack of financial resources (18 percent) and lack of female role models (6 percent).

Today, 30 percent of the current class of full-time MBA participants at Queen’s is female, and the School actively recruits female candidates by hosting “Women and the MBA” events across Canada, where female grads speak about juggling a busy life along with school. In addition to sponsoring the Women of Influence and Power Within for Women programs, Queen’s is also the first Canadian business school to join Forté Foundation, a group of major corporations, top business schools and influential non-profit organizations dedicated to directing women towards business education and business leadership roles.

The Value of an MBA
According to the Queen’s School of Business survey, eight out of ten executives (79 percent) say they would hire a job candidate that has an MBA over one who does not, all other things being equal. Seventy percent of those who would prefer the candidate with the MBA feel that the business school that granted the MBA makes a difference.

A slight majority of executives feel that within their own organization, it is important to have an MBA to advance to an executive position, with ten percent saying it is “very important” and 41 percent saying “somewhat important.” Twenty-six percent said an MBA is “not very important” and 22 percent said an MBA is “not at all important” to achieve an executive position in their company.

Queen’s Tops Rankings
When executives were asked to rank Canadian business schools in a variety of areas, Queen’s School of Business consistently emerges as the top choice. The top three choices in each category, listed in order:

• Best overall experience: Queen’s, Ivey/Western, McGill
• Most innovative programs: Queen’s, Ivey/Western, Schulich/York
• Highest academic quality: Queen’s, Ivey/Western Rotman/Toronto
• Best MBA program: Queen’s, Ivey/Western, Rotman/Toronto
• Best Executive MBA program: Queen’s, Ivey/Western, Schulich/York
• Most sought after graduates: Queen’s, Ivey/Western, Rotman/Toronto

The Queen’s Executive Survey was conducted by Environics Research Group and involved interviews with 400 Canadian executives. Respondents’ job titles included president, CEO, General Manager, COO, Vice-President and Director, among others. Telephone interviews were conducted between January 24 and February 22, 2008. The results are accurate within +/- 5.0 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About Queen’s School of Business:
Queen’s School of Business is one of the world’s premier business schools, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees and non-degree executive education programs. Programs include: Queen’s full-time MBA, ranked #1 in the world outside the US by BusinessWeek; Cornell-Queen’s Executive MBA, Queen’s Accelerated MBA for Business Graduates and Queen’s Executive MBA offered by videoconference in cities across Canada; Queen’s Ottawa Executive MBA; the largest offering of open enrolment executive development programs in the country, ranked in the top 15 by Financial Times (UK); Queen’s Bachelor of Commerce, renowned for its rigorous entrance standards; the new Master of Global Management; and Queen’s MSc and PhD in Management programs, which produce leading researchers for industry and academe.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Amber Wallace
Queen’s School of Business