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Monday, June 19, 2017
In India, Numbers of Women in Business School Rising
Each year The Economist compiles a list of the top 100 business schools in the world. The U.S. typically dominates in the rankings, while other countries, like Africa and the Republic of Korea, often don't feature at all. In India, just one institution regularly makes the list; the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) is widely regarded as the top business school in the country. And it has one glaring quality in common with U.S. business schools: a notable lack of female students.

There is, however, some good news. A few years ago, just 14% of IIMA's entering class was comprised of women. Last cycle, that number had grown to 21%; this year, enrollment was bumped again to 28%. There are litanies of social reasons for this. The job market is still highly divided by gender. Legal inheritance rights favor men, placing women at a disadvantage financially in terms of capital investment for start-ups. The shortage of female role models in the professional sector makes it difficult to attract girls and young women into business.

A recent economic census by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), revealed that just 14% of India's entrepreneurs were women, many of them running smaller, rural businesses. A 2017 survey by the accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton found that India ranks third lowest in the world for employing women in senior management positions (17%), and only 7% in CEO/ management positions. These statistics aligns with the business school enrollment figures, so the fact that India's most prominent b-school is making gains in female enrollment gives good reason for some optimism.

While IIMA does not reserve specific space for female candidates, it is putting forth increasing efforts to recruit women from discipline diverse backgrounds. This is a strategic move that's already been employed by a number of U.S. business schools, who recognize the ways in which female professionals tend to enhance performance and growth in the active sector.

As with most steps towards progress, these are small and slow-moving, but important to watch.

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