Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The University of Iowa Tippie College of Business has endorsed a White House initiative designed to encourage more women college students to consider majoring in business.

Sarah Gardial
Sarah Gardial

Sarah Gardial, dean of the Tippie College, provided her endorsement to a White House meeting Aug. 5 that was sponsored by the Council on Women and Girls and the Council of Economic Advisers. The convening brought together business leaders and business educators from across the U.S. to focus on opportunities for the business community and business schools to work together to encourage success for women in business.

Gardial notes that while women have made up an increasingly larger percentage of the workforce in the last 40 years, the U.S. labor market has not fully adapted to these changes. While some businesses have made changes to increase workplace flexibility and offer greater access to paid leave, for instance, she says it’s imperative that future business leaders, both men and women, be well-prepared to address the challenges and opportunities of the 21st-century workplace.

Business schools play a critical role in helping workers, companies, and leaders adapt to meet the needs of the 21st-century workforce. Although women have become more equal players in the labor market and have increasingly entered previously male-dominated occupations like medicine and law, women have made relatively fewer strides in business careers. In 2014, only 5 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies were female, and in 2013 only 17 percent of board seats on Fortune 500 companies were held by women.

Gardial notes also that nationally, undergraduate women are currently about 30 percent less likely than male undergraduates to major in business, and that women represent only 38 percent of MBA students across the country. The wage gap persists, as well, even for those students with advanced degrees, as men with MBAs tend to earn about 30 percent more than women with MBAs after five years of receiving their degrees.

At Wednesday’s White House meeting, more than 45 business schools, including the Tippie College, committed to a set offering concrete strategies for business schools to help women succeed throughout school and their careers and to build a business school experience that prepares students for the future workforce. The practices relate to ensuring access to business schools and business careers; building a business school experience that prepares students for the workforce of tomorrow; ensuring career services that go beyond the needs of traditional students; and exemplifying how organizations should be run.