Global MBA gender balance is possible in 2011, but…

Male applicants still greatly exceed females in Africa

According to the latest QS Applicant Survey 2010, the global percentage of females looking to study for an MBA has risen from 35% in 2006 to 48% in 2010. Although globally, male applicants still outnumber females, this figure is as close to parity as it has ever been.

The research also revealed that in Africa with only 39% of respondents being female, there is still a long way to go before complete gender balance is achieved.

Responses were received from 3,895 of the 68,000 applicants around the world who registered for the QS World MBA Tour last year. The table below demonstrates the gradual narrowing of the MBA gender gap from 2006-2010

Nunzio Quacquarelli, Managing Director of QS attributes this robust trend to the growing ambitions of young business women around the world.

“Over the last five years, QS TopMBA Applicant Research has revealed a steady increase in the number of women seeking to take an MBA. In most countries around the world, women are achieving better academic grades than their male counterparts and therefore have the confidence they will be able to gain entry to top schools.”

In South Africa these trends are less apparent. Quacquarelli adds, “Women still do not feel liberated to pursue MBA studies because of religious and societal constraints. But the picture is still changing and we expect to see a higher proportion of women from wealthy middle-class families using an MBA as a route to international mobility, or to communicate that they wish to be taken seriously.”

Currently, women only account for 28% of those serving at senior management level in South Africa*.  Although there are currently no quotas for women on boards or in senior management positions in South Africa, business schools around the world are seeing the number of women on their MBA programs increase year-on-year. 

IMD Business School, Switzerland, saw its MBA applications from women hit a record high, from 23% in 2010 to 28% in 2011.

Kara Keenan, Associate Director of Admissions, Marketing & Financial Aid at the INSEAD MBA Program says, “Through marketing specifically to women and offering scholarships targeted at women only, the gender gap is definitely narrowing; the percentage of women currently enrolled in the MBA program at INSEAD is 33% – a number which has grown steadily over the last decade.”

The next QS World MBA Tour arrives in Johannesburg on 29th March 2011, offering over $1.2 million worth of scholarships with many targeted specifically towards women. Candidates are advised to register before the event on

 For more information, contact:

Barak Cerff

+27 (011) 867 3466

 *Grant Thornton report- Women in the Boardroom 

QS World MBA Tour               

The QS World MBA Tour is the world’s largest series of recruitment and information fairs for business school applicants. In 2010, over 60,000 MBA candidates registered to visit 85 events in 66 cities in 42 countries.

The QS World MBA Tour offers a unique opportunity to meet admissions officers of the world’s most influential business schools at venues around the world. Now in its seventeenth year, the Tour will consist of 83 events across 42 countries over five continents during 2011. 

QS Applicant Survey 2010    

The QS Applicant Survey 2010 is the largest survey of the mindset and aspirations of MBA applicants ever conducted. The results provide detailed insight into the status, attitudes, goals and ambitions of MBA applicant worldwide and how they, and the employment and education markets for young professionals, are changing.

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