Beyond the glass ceiling
Nowadays, we see more and more women climb the ladder and fulfill leadership roles just as men do. In fact, sometimes they outnumber men in earning a university degree. Women today are making their mark across various spheres – from corporate boardrooms to healthcare to universities. However, men still dominate many prestigious leadership roles.
Despite women gaining ground in powerful and meaningful corporate leadership roles, it is astounding to see how people across the world still don’t trust women as leaders or in leadership positions – these biases are ingrained in society. According to the Gender Gap Global Report 2022, it’s going to be another 132 years to close this gender gap!
But, time and again we have seen women vaulting to power and proving themselves. We have seen women challenging the age-old myth that women “cannot” be leaders of change. But their fight for equal pay, equal treatment at work, and equal representation in leadership roles continues. It is during these times that MBA programs and related initiatives like the Women in Business Club carried out by IESE Business School become all the more relevant.
As Paula Amorim, Head of Admissions of the school’s Full-Time MBA and an IESE MBA graduate herself, explains, “Coming to IESE made me realize that I could be a part of something bigger than myself and that realization didn’t come on its own. [The MBA] gave me the necessary tools to build more self-awareness and empowered me. It gave me the voice to speak up [and] [the] confidence to disagree and stand on my ground. Yes, they taught me priorities and [to] fight for what I think is right.” (00:20)
It is never too late to be who you are
Earning an MBA is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Many consider the journey as a lifelong learning process. That’s where, according to many, the true value of an MBA lies. MBAs make you confront your own self. You discover new aspects of yourself, building more strength and confidence along the way.
Tanaka Mawindi from USA and Zimbabwe, who is currently pursuing her MBA, shares her experience with MBAGRADSCHOOLS: “I would say that it’s a very empowering experience. Coming into campus every day, walking into the classroom, I feel super inspired seeing women in the fields that are historically dominated by men.” (01:05)
The IESE MBA program imparts more than just theoretical knowledge. The program helps push women out of their comfort zones. Christina Perez from Spain, who completed her MBA in 2021, cannot agree more. She says, “When I joined the MBA, I was hoping to gain the skills, network, credibility, and confidence to thrive as a professional and inspire others. I remember very well during my work meetings, I would feel shy and [not] confident whenever I had to speak about something. When I joined the MBA, everything changed. I acknowledged all of this and I decided that I had to push myself further.” (01:40)
Growing through an MBA
MBAs are professional degrees that help to achieve career growth, and the qualification is known for giving graduates their much-awaited promotions. Any MBA, as a matter of fact, would help improve your business and professional network and instill key entrepreneurial traits. However, MBAs for women can be life-changing. Bee Lee See, the Marketing Communications and Corporate Affairs Director at Deutsu in Malaysia, completed her MBA at IESE in 2009. With clear affection for IESE, she explains how the top-ranked MBA shaped her life.
“IESE provided me with an incredibly safe and nourishing environment in which to find my voice,” she reveals. “[It helped me] to dream loud both personally and professionally. I find that I am much stronger now, I am more independent, much more secure, and I found significantly more purpose in my work for myself and for others.” (02:04)
Fighting gender bias
What Christina and Bee mentioned about “inspiring” and helping others is of great significance. One of the important ways to close the gender gap and address gender equality is to help other women. Paula beautifully explains this by saying, “We can be the inspiration for younger women [so] that when they look at us, they will think that if we have made it, [so] they can make it too.” (00:26)
While inspiring and empowering women is one thing, the other important task is to talk about these uncomfortable topics. The ability to say no is also very important. The more you give in to these biases, the weaker you become. Mireia Gine, Associate Professor of Financial Management, explains, “I think that we need to have an informed debate. We need to gather the facts so that we can find a common ground and from then on we start jointly discussing the action plans or things to remedy these potential inequalities. But I would say we are still far away from having the full picture of facts.” (02:33)
Women without a voice should be heard too
About 60% of people who remain hungry in this world are women and girls. Globally, there are around 796 million illiterate people – of which women make up two-thirds! We talk about women leaders – but the majority remains underserved and unempowered. The cry for gender equality is not about just making some noise; it is about taking real action.
Grad schools like IESE with their women-oriented programs are trying to create this awareness. If one woman can bring change, she can be an inspiration for another. Hopefully, we do not need to wait for 132 years, but we can make equality happen – together. As Paula rightly says, “We can be a part of the change. We can be the driver of the change – women, men, everyone can and should take part in this transformational process and contribute to a more equal, balanced, and healthier world.” (02:58)