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Percentage of Female MBA Students at Haas Dips Slightly, but Total Number of Women in Program Reaches New High

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The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley last year made headlines when it enrolled a record-setting 43 percent women in its incoming class, besting all other leading business schools and representing a 14-point gain over the year before, when female MBA students at Haas made up just 29 percent of the class. This year, Haas saw a slight decline in women in its incoming class—to 41 percent. But combined with the women in last year’s class, the program as a whole now counts more total women than ever before, the school points out.

Overall, the full-time MBA program still hovers at almost 43 percent female, making it a frontrunner for top MBA programs. “School and student leaders say the class composition both reflects and builds on their push for gender equity,” read a recent article on the Haas website.

Haas is certainly not alone in launching a concerted effort to raise the percentage of female MBA students in its ranks. Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School each recently announced that their incoming classes this year would be 43 percent female, up from 38 and 40 percent last year, respectively. Harvard Business School is close on their heels, reporting in June as part of a preliminary profile for the incoming class that 41 percent will be female, holding steady from last year. Stanford Graduate School of Business, which had 42 percent women in its incoming class last year, has not yet disclosed class profile information for this year’s incoming class.

At Haas, students have helped to spearhead a comprehensive Gender Equity Initiative (GEI), which takes a three-pronged approach to increasing female enrollment from the perspectives of culture, academics and admissions. Groups of students have broken off to tackle each of the three areas, conduct serious data analysis and suggest solutions that the school began implementing last year, says Jo Mackness, Haas chief operating officer. “They are very organized about it,” she says. In fact, so much progress was made in such short order that the initiative had to be renamed, she points out. (It was initially called 40by20 but handily surpassed its own target of reaching 40 percent women female MBA students at Haas by 2020.)

Mackness was one of 47 business school leaders to convene at the White House earlier this summer to discuss how to address the gender imbalance among MBA classes. There, she shared the progress Haas has made toward gender equity and committed to a set of best practices designed to break down barriers to women both in business school and the business world.

Haas also revealed as part of its Class of 2017 profile that the average GMAT score slipped two points, to 715. But application volume was up 3.4 percent, increasing from 3,475 to 3,592. The school did not reveal an acceptance rate, but given the increase in applicant volume and little change in class size, the selectivity rate is likely close to last year’s 13.2 percent.

Read Haas’s complete Class of 2017 profile.