When Nancy Reagan said: “A woman is like a tea bag, you can not tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water”, she was not much off the mark. If an MBA and the career options after it are tough, women are tougher! So whoever says that an MBA is not for women is really off the mark. Women from all kinds of backgrounds are finding that the MBA or another graduate business degree is a great way to achieve their career and personal objectives.
There are some misconceptions that are prevalent that tend to give the impression that an MBA is male-dominated. We conveniently forget people like Indra Nooyi, Kiran Majumdar-Shaw, Priya Paul, Chanda Kochhar, Renuka Ramnath, Tarjani Vaakil, and Preetha Reddy are just a few names. Entrepreneurship, business-sense, and an MBA degree are gender-neutral. Even when we look within organizations, we find women at the helm of affairs. However, a few myths do surround this enigma called an MBA. Let us take a look at some of these “falacies” below.
Fallacy ONE: Only if you opt to work for a large organization, will an MBA be of any use. Reality: An MBA makes you discover paths for successfully managing any organization.
Although there are many successful executives in large corporations who have MBAs, there are also MBAs working in nonprofits, healthcare organizations, higher education, arts management, the military, and government. Some people get MBAs in order to start their own businesses or manage a small family business.
An MBA helps you streamline and focus your versatility. Thus armed with an MBA, you can pursue a career in a wide range of industries and in very different types of organizations. An MBA is not about big corporations; it’s about business.
Fallacy TWO: Complete your MBA from any B-school. They are all the same. Reality: There are life-size differences and some are better than others at attracting and supporting women on campus.
Women are more likely than men to look for a school environment where they’ll find other people with similar life experiences and backgrounds. Women also tend to seek different kinds of educational experiences and skill development, and to value the various aspects of their MBA experiences differently from men. Find out the following facts:
1. Published percentages of women in the entering class
2. How many women are on the faculty?
3. The number and variety of women’s organizations on campus
4. The learning environment and campus culture
All business schools are not the same, just as all businesses are not the same. The more information you can get from them, the more effectively you can evaluate a business school program and how well you fit into it.
Fallacy THREE: You have to be really strong in math to do well in an MBA program. Reality: The MBA curriculum offers a balance of different kinds of courses.
You do not have to be an engineer to opt for an MBA. In fact, lots of liberal arts graduates excel in MBA programs. However, thinking analytically and building on your existing quantitative skills is essential. Accounting, finance, operations management, and even marketing use numbers and analytical concepts to help you learn how to make better business decisions. For many MBAs, the development of these skills is what makes the MBA degree so valuable.
Fallacy FOUR: All B-schools and their students are fiercely competitive. Reality: Competitiveness among the student body is a function of culture, and business school cultures vary significantly.
If your definition of competitiveness is those who try hard to do their very best, then most MBAs would fit that definition—both men and women. To achieve and to be successful is the dream of every MBA aspirant. And won’t it be great to go to school with people who care about how they perform? However, the best way to find out about the culture of a B-school you are considering is to talk to students and alumni — particularly women — and ask them about the culture in the campus.
Fallacy FIVE: Aspirants from a non-business background do not consider an MBA. Reality: MBAs come from every kind of background, including liberal arts, science, law, social sciences, and education.
In fact, a non-business background brings very valuable approaches and experiences to an MBA class and is attractive to employers. This diversity is actually vital. Besides analytical, strategic, and quantitative skills, the most important things for the right aspirant are strong leadership skills, and communication skills. Having a particular background prior to B-school is not seen as highly important by most employers. This is because most MBA programs have a core curriculum that is designed to teach you business fundamentals such as accounting, marketing, finance, organization behavior, and the like. So it doesn’t really matter what you studied at the undergraduate level — you will get the basics from the core courses.
Myth: Will striking a balance between their house and career be possible? Are MBA career tracks not seemingly highly defined and demanding? Reality: Getting an MBA increases your career flexibility.
An MBA can help women discipline the balance between the demands of career and family. Even men are now increasing aware of this facet and are contributing to make this possible. For women, an MBA also means:
1. A way of life that helps her bring up a family in ways earlier unknown,
2. Education to build life skills,
3. Social support — something critically important if they are to stand up for their rights and make their own choices.
Let me end here with this analogy… An MBA is the difference between taking a train and driving a car. Someone else decides the schedule and drives a train. YOU are the decision-maker when you drive a car. Thus, women must go for an MBA unhesitatingly.
Written for PT Education