ISB Goes on a Diversity Drive

Varuni Khosla
New Delhi

Indian School of Business is pushing for greater diversity in its classrooms, tracking most international peers that are focusing on increasing the number of women enrolled in their MBA programmes.

This year, the school claims, it has the highest number of woman applicants: 280, or 31%, of the total class size of 905 at it campuses in Hyderabad and Mohali for the post-graduate in management programme.

This, it says, is also the highest among premier B-schools in the country. “We have been pushing to ensure a much-needed gender diversity in the classroom. The average age of woman students in the Class of 2017 at ISB is 26.8 years, with age ranging from 22 to 38 years,“ said Dishan Kamdar, deputy dean of academic programmes.

As a result of various initiatives the school has taken, it has seen a year-on-year increase in the number of women over the past 15 years. At 31%, the representation of women on ISB’s 2017 PGP list is still below what it is in the US. Last month, ET reported that the average representation for women at top 20 US MBA programmes was 38%. The top 10 schools had 41% women and schools ranked from 10 to 20 had 32%. Schools are pushing for grea ter representation by encouraging more women to join their courses.

The share of women in the Indian workforce is abysmally small. It was reported last year that although the polulation of women was more than 48% of the country’s total, they made up for less than 2% of the headcount at offices and factories at some of the country’s top companies. There are, however, efforts to improve those numbers.

“Our objective in looking at increased gender diversity in the class room is the belief that women bring valuable insights into the classroom and the workforce. Second, the growing numbers will lead to an increased representation of women in the business world.While there is a growing acknowledgement of the fact that women make excellent leaders, we still do not see many women in leadership roles,“ Kamdar said.

According to Shailja Dutt, founder of leadership advisory firm Stellar Search, diversity accelerates corporate performance is a well-documented fact. But unfortunately, the percentage of women graduating from top-tier B-schools is just around 20%, she added.

“The larger issue, however, remains retaining woman B-school graduates in the workforce as a large percentage drops out before they reach senior management due to pressures of marriage, motherhood or mobility. Structured mentoring and coaching and creating supportive networks for women entering the workforce is the need of the hour,“ she said.

read full article >>