A ‘Watershed Moment’ for Women at Wharton

Ankur Kumar calls it a “watershed moment” for Wharton.

When the Wharton MBA Class of 2011 arrived on campus this fall, it marked a significant milestone for future ranks of business leaders. For the first time ever, the percentage of women in the class reached 40 percent.

That’s not only an all-time high for Wharton, but is also the highest percentage of women attending any top U.S. business school.

The percentage of women in the Wharton MBA program and other top business schools has been increasing due in large part to concerted efforts at reaching out to this population. However, while Wharton increased from 37 percent to 40 percent women this year, peers schools did not experience the same trend. For example, the class of 2011 at Harvard Business School is 36 percent women; at Stanford, the number is 34 percent.

“I think the increase in the number of women in our program reflects the changing landscape of business school applicants, and the changing mindset of women towards business school as a pathway for professional and personal success,” explains Kumar, WG’07, Senior Associate Director for MBA Admissions.  “It also reflects outreach we’ve been doing among different parties who maybe in the past hadn’t been thinking about business school as an option, including women.”

In total, the new MBA class includes more than 850 students, making it one of the largest classes in recent Wharton history. Like other top business schools, Wharton saw a slight increase in applications this year, as the struggling economy led more people to consider business school. “For us, increasing our class size slightly was a proactive effort to bring more talented candidates to the program,” Kumar says.

The incoming students Wharton MBAs have worked in just about every industry imaginable and, as usual, come from every corner of the globe.

Seventy different countries are represented.

“Historically, we have been the most international of the top business schools,” Kumar says. The incoming student body hails from seventy different countries and thirty-seven percent of the class is coming from outside the U.S. “The opportunity to learn from classmates with different perspectives – including geographic exposure – draws students to our program.”

For the full profile of the Class of 2011 please click here.

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