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Strategies for Women Applying for International MBA

If you are a woman, then this is the best time to apply to a top MBA program in the USA or Europe! For quite a long time there has been a gender gap in most of these B-schools. Although there has been improvement in the last decade, even the last MBA batches at Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton comprised about 40% women at an average. In 2021, these numbers can not stand!

Globally, gender discrimination is being challenged at large in the modern age. From closing the pay gap to #metoo, women are now at the forefront of multiple social and business spheres, and this needs to reflect in the classrooms of top B-schools as well!

So, most B-schools are now welcoming potential women applicants with arms wide open. This means more scholarships, lowered admission criteria, and also help with the networking process. If you are a woman living in India aspiring for a top international B-school education, it’s time to start building that rockstar application, because this chance won’t last a long time.

But first, let’s address this gender gap!

Why don’t women apply to B-schools?

Truth be told, the world of business still has a long way to come in terms of crushing gender disparity. And this is reflected in the number of women CEOs and top level executives, top B-school classrooms, and the number of applicants.

There are multiple reasons for this vicious cycle, and understanding them will help us pick out pointers for creating a great profile!

  • The growth problem

Women and men spend the same time getting an MBA; however on an average a woman grows slower at their workplace than their male counterparts. At the end of the day, an MBA is taken up by most due to the high ROI of the degree. If the ROI is less for women, it makes sense that they will turn to more lucrative opportunities.

  • The age problem

The average age of an MBA classroom is between 26 – 30. Typically, this is the age when women are expected to get married and start a family. While men are still considered as marriage worthy well into their 30s, women definitely have it harder due to social standards. And when it comes to POC women, these social standards are pressed upon even deeper.

  • The power-play

B-school campuses face a lot of problems related to power-play. Many top B-school graduates complain of groupism and territorial peers. Women do not generally prefer such environments, and even more so when there is a gender gap at large. If you belong to the minority you are most likely to lose out in a territorial environment. This power play also extends into the various layers of companies, making the lives of women graduates even harder.

So, what do we learn from this? Basically, you have to present yourself as a woman who is ready to take on these three evils and stand tall as an industry leader! Let’s see how you can do this –

How to build a Rockstar MBA Application as a Woman from India

 Before we start this list, you need to keep in mind that it’s not about you fitting into the MBA stereotype. Rather, it’s about inculcating certain skill sets, strategizing, and presenting your best self  to the admissions committee!

  • Less attitude more confidence

While it is good if men are modest in their applications, as it shows a sign of humility, women are rather stereotyped as those with self-doubt. You need to get rid of self-doubt if you have any, and start acting like you are going to walk into your dream job interview tomorrow!

Mirror work is a great way to gain confidence. But, always keep in mind to not cross the fine line into the attitude territory. You still need to be polite while showing confidence. Speak from a position of experience and skill and you will be given the opportunity you deserve.

  • Tell a story that you rather wouldn’t

This somewhat ties in with the previous point. In most MBA applications and interviews with male candidates, the candidate is likely to tell a story about their successes. Whereas women are more likely to simply describe their experience and not make a big deal out of it. This form of humility is great, but as a woman applying from India to a foreign B-school, you should know that they deserve to hear your story.

Every woman has stories of power, resistance, and success. Make them available in your application as you see fit, but let them know that you know what struggle in the real world is like simply because of your identity. The more you come across as a fighter, the better your chances will be of getting through!

  • Heads-up on Quant

Again a stereotype you need to break is that women are weak at quant. Even if you are from a liberal arts background, the tougher your quant game the better your application will be. This will never be true for something with a bachelor’s degree in engineering applying for an international MBA, in which case the applicant is simply expected to be good at quant.

The quant section of your GMAT is the best way to prove this point apart from academic records. So, give it your absolute best and if possible let them know how you achieved it.

  • Take the credits

If you have done something great in life, don’t leave it in just a sentence. This will show you as someone who will not be able to break the glass ceiling simply because they don’t champion themselves. And that’s a fight you need to put up with everyday anyway. So, now that you have a chance where people are actually willing to witness your successes it’s your duty to let them know that you too are ready for the glory!

Get your recommenders to write you absolutely great pieces that proudly showcase your work and achievements. Talk about them in length and always let them know that you are aware of your gender position and how it affects your experiences. Finish with the fact that you know in places you will have to push yourself in and you are ready to grab the space that’s meant for you.

  • Do the women’s networking

You will of course reach out to the AdCom members and alumni for learning more about the B-school processes. However, if you come across a woman in any of these circles you should definitely try to establish a formal relationship. And if the campus has a women’s organization you should also get in touch with them as well.

There are also scholarships meant exclusively for women in a lot of top B-schools. So, when you are looking out for financial aid you should definitely try to find ones that are dedicated towards women applicants. These scholarships also tend to have lesser competition behind them!

Summing Up

If we are to consider the long game, we need more women CEOs and CFOs to change the entire playground. But change, historically, has always begun at the bottom. And in the realm of business executives, that’s the B-school classrooms!

The only reason these tips and this article exists is because there still looms a gender disparity. But, it’s about time you took control of the situation and turned it around. With these pointers you will be able to build a profile that not only suits the B-school but also suits your needs in the world of business.

Don’t simply write a resume that showcases your strengths, feel those strengths and tell the stories that lie in those strengths. We hope you make it to the top! Here’s a video on more general tips for a great application:

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For over 15+ years as an Entrepreneur, and India’s Top Educationist, Jatin has led a range of initiatives in the Education Industry. In this role, he has created many successful educational services and products geared towards generating success for professionals aspiring to join IVY League and global Top Tier Universities for MBA Programs, Masters Programs, and undergraduate courses. He is the Founder and CEO of PythaGURUS Education, and has been recognized as a thought leader in the Higher education sector. Economic Times, Hindustan Times, Times of India, India Today, Business Today, Tribune, and many other national newspapers have recognized his work, and have given him numerous opportunities to be a regular columnist. He has also served as a panelist for NDTV, and other national news channels.

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