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Women’s Own Lack of Preparation Prevents Them From Succeeding in Business


Although female students appear to outnumber their male counterparts at most UK universities, they remain a minority in business schools. Data from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which runs the Graduate Management Admission Test, might help explain why this is the case. Women underperform men by about 20 points in the GMAT. In the 2011-12 testing year the mean total score for men was 557, while the mean total figure for women was 536. The top score in the GMAT is 800.

The executive director of graduate programmes at Kaplan Test Prep, Lee Weiss argued that a 20-point difference could make all the difference. “When you’re applying to top business schools, breaking the 700 barrier is very important and our latest annual survey of business schools shows a low GMAT score is the biggest application killer,” he says.

He then went to add that “If the highest score for women was 690 and men got 710 that would put women at a disadvantage”.

Are Women Less Prepared to Take Enter the Business World?

Undoubtedly, a better GMAT score would put women in a better position. Elissa Ellis Sangster, executive director of the Forté Foundation, a non-profit consortium which aims to promote women in business and business education, says the problem could be due to lack of preparation. She says that Forté tries to encourage women to think about the three Ps: planning, preparation and persistence.

Ms Sangster says that anecdotal information point out that “women often go in three to four years after graduation. They have lots of things going on in life. They take the test and are disappointed,” adding that the disappointment often leads to women giving up.

She says it is all about confidence and preparedness. “Preparing and persisting through that process is so important.

What’s more, Prof Laura Tysor, director of the Institute for Business and Social Impact at University of California’s Berkeley-Haas School of Business says that one should ask why women do not apply, not why they are not doing so well. She points out that women are in the minority of GMAT test makers.

She speculates that female students have already decided business school is not for them. She thinks that business school is “a terrific education because it gives you skills which are applicable to a variety of different sectors and activities”.

Less Women Obtain MBAs and Occupy Leadership Positions

In the meantime, although women make up nearly half of the people who take the GMAT exam (Graduate Management Admission Test), they only account for 30% of MBA programs, according to data by About.com’s Business Schools site. Research also shows that women make up nearly half of the workforce; however, they only account for a mere 4.2% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.

On the whole, not only are women underrepresented in leadership and executive positions, in the corporate world, but they are also outperformed in the GMAT tests and outnumbered in MBA programs by their male counterparts. Experts argue that this situation is due to female graduates’ lack of adequate preparation and persistence in securing a place in the business realm. 

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