Stanford Graduate School of Business: Women Belong In ‘A Place Like This’
What’s A Nice Girl Like You Doing In A Place Like This?
Fifty years ago, five young and ambitious women were admitted into the MBA program at Stanford University — three of them being Susan Phillips, Anne Thornton, and Barbara West. At first, their presence was unusual to faculty, administrators, and the male-dominated class. The young women would often get asked, “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”
These women soon reclaimed that question and proved they belonged ‘in a place like this’ as they started to excel in business school and make their faces known around campus. One of Susan’s goals while at business school was to ensure that women did not only have one choice of being a homemaker. She wanted women to have the freedom to choose other roles in their lives.
Susan, Anne, and Barbara’s friendship and support for one another is what ultimately got them through this time in their lives. Susan mentions that she was always grateful for the advice Barbara would share with her and Anne. Susan also recalls during class how she was asked, “You’re an MBA?!” Anne would not let her friend’s credibility be questioned. So, from the back of the classroom, Anne roared with support, “She sure is!”
Women From Stanford GSB Belong In A Place Like This
Little did Susan, Anne, and Barbara know that their presence in the Stanford MBA program would open admissions for other future trailblazers and later inspire a school and workplace culture of inclusion and empowerment. Three second-year MBA students from the class of 2021—Jenny, Janna, and Julie—are grateful for and inspired by what Susan, Anne, and Barbara accomplished.
Just like Susan, Anne, and Barbara, Julie mentions the importance of sisterhood and comradery. “I could not have gotten to where I am without the women groups at Stanford,” says Julie. They have provided her with an enormous support network and have been a “great rock” for her throughout her time at Stanford. After graduation, Julie hopes to provide the same type of mentorship and coaching to other young women. Jenny hopes to become a leader in the business world, but she will stay true to her womanhood as she makes a name for herself. Susan’s legacy of wanting to give women the freedom to do whatever they want in life lives throughout the Stanford campus, and it has inspired Janna to create her own business and have a family after graduation.
All in all, these women have shown the importance of supporting and inspiring other women. Most importantly, all these women have shown that women have always belonged in a ‘place like this’.