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Georgetown McDonough Dispels Common Myths for Women Pursuing an MBA

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Women belong in business and the Georgetown McDonough School of Business supports women every step of the way through their MBA programs. But, what are some common concerns for women pursuing an MBA? In this piece, Georgetown McDonough MBA students dispel the myths that may hold women back from pursuing their b-school dreams.

Myth #1:  MBA Programs are for Men Only

It’s been six decades since the first woman graduated from the McDonough School of Business, surrounded by male classmates. Fortunately, female representation in graduate education has only increased since then. The first MBA class at McDonough in 1983 had 19 women and 18 men, attesting to the program’s gender diversity from its founding.  Fast forward to the latest classes numbering in the hundreds at McDonough, and you’ll see roughly a third of the Full-time MBA Class of 2023 are women and 44 percent of the latest Flex MBA class are women.

Carol Allen, McDonough Full-time MBA ’22

What does this representation translate to in the program? Carol Allen, McDonough Full-time MBA ’22, says, “There are more women on the student government than men, women board members on almost every career club’s board, and women tend to be the ones who consistently attend events on campus. I rarely feel like a minority, and I always feel supported to speak my mind and contribute to the campus culture.”

Beyond the numbers, female students can find a system of support at all stages of pursuing a business education. Allen shares, “Georgetown McDonough also has quite a few initiatives to ensure women are supported. Not only do they partner with Forté to offer Forté scholarships and membership benefits, but our Graduate Women in Business (GWIB) club is the second largest club in the MBA Program. GWIB hosts events weekly to support women in the community, classroom, and career search. The Program Office also ensures that you are never the only woman on an assigned study team. They do their best to ensure in the small groups (~6 people) you have female support. There are mentorship opportunities, women-specific events, and even GWIB member tutor sessions.”

Yasi Akbari, McDonough Flex MBA Candidate

Yasi Akbari, a McDonough Flex MBA Candidate, adds, “Our clubs and affinity programs are incredibly engaging, and in my most recent role as SGA President, I’ve been able to see firsthand how deeply the University and MBA program invests and supports initiatives led by our GWiB club, our international clubs, and our competency-focused clubs. There has never been a single instance where I felt that our program lacked gender diversity.”

Allen also reports that she has participated in two brainstorming sessions with campus leaders to figure out how to reach prospective women students. She says, “Georgetown takes a holistic approach to ensuring that not only are more women attending MBA programs, but also that they are supported once they arrive.”

Myth #2:  All MBAs Go to iBanking

The McDonough MBA program supports myriad career interests. While 32 percent of the McDonough Full-time MBA Class of 2021 entered the financial services industry, 26 percent chose consulting and 17 percent technology. The remainder of the class cast a wide net – seven percent pursued roles in consumer goods; six percent entered social impact/non-profit fields; five percent took jobs in real estate; healthcare took in four percent of graduates. By function, 27 percent spanned consulting roles, including strategy, management and tech, among others; 35 percent held functions in finance/accounting. Another nine percent took on general management functions and 14 percent landed in marketing/sales.

Allen, who is pivoting from entertainment media into marketing/brand management in the consumer products space, found bountiful learning opportunities at McDonough. She says, “Georgetown offers peer advisors, career coaches, and numerous company info sessions to help you determine what path is right for you and how to be successful in that recruiting journey. Outside of the Career Center, there are also numerous career-centric clubs. I am on the board of the Graduate Marketing Association (GMA) [and we] have worked with the Career Center to put on Marketing Day (a day of panels and events centered around various marketing career opportunities), Lunch & Learns, Interviewing 101 Sessions, and a shared drive with resources for interview prep.”

Myth #3: The Cost of an MBA is Too Risky

While the cost of an MBA may feel daunting, the return on investment is priceless. “The MBA is an expensive investment,” Allen says. “However, it has been worth every single penny. I will come out with over double the salary I left prior to business school.”

The average base salary for the McDonough Class of 2021 landed at $126,107. Add to this an average signing bonus of $34,073. Meanwhile, the average tuition and fees for the Full-time and Flex MBA programs are approximately $122,000-126,000.

When it comes to borrowing loans to cover the cost of an MBA, Allen adds, “It is important to remember that MBA loans are different from undergraduate ones. You will not be exiting into an entry-level role that may or may not pay well. You will be entering the workforce in a mid-level or management role with a fast track to leadership.”

Akbari shares the same sentiment, “I am confident that an investment in an MBA today will very clearly pay for itself down the road. I remember seeing a statistic before applying to Georgetown that about 40% of Fortune 500 Executives hold an MBA from a top ranked program. I know that the learnings, experience, and network I will gain from this program will pay for the program tenfold over the next couple of years.”

Myth #4: An MBA Means Sacrificing Family Plans

While MBA programs are rigorous, students still have space and support to pursue personal goals. An MBA did not get in the way of Akbari’s personal plans. She shares, “I actually got engaged during my MBA program and have been able to do all the fun activities that come along with planning a wedding without worrying about timing and school too much.”

For Allen, the McDonough MBA has actually enhanced her personal plans, as she says, “I actually feel like coming out of the MBA more financially stable and confident in myself will allow me to achieve my personal goals more effectively.”

When it comes to family life, Akbari notes, “I’ve seen many friends and classmates start families during the program and have been in awe of how well they’ve balanced it all – it certainly helps that the program looks to accommodate working students and parents as much as it can.”

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Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.