Women's Initiatives at the Carlson School

Sunday, May 17, 2015

On the first day of MBA orientation at the Carlson School, students are presented with some interesting statistics about the makeup of their class. These stats serve to give students a sense of where their classmates are coming from and where they’re headed. They include the class’ average GMAT score, average years of work experience, career interests, and other interesting facts. One of the statistics that really struck me was the fact that only 25% of our class was female! Perhaps even more surprising is that 25-30% female enrollment is pretty average in Top 30 MBA Programs.

Following that presentation, Dean Sri Zaheer assured students that Carlson was working on several impactful initiatives in order to increase the number of women in the program, create an inclusive environment, and empower women in business.

I could have written pages about great things the school is doing for women, but since I only have space for one blog post, I’ve chosen to highlight just three programs. Each serves women through different stages in her education and career. 

Before Enrolling: Women’s Mentorship Program
The Women’s Mentorship Program, now in its second year, was designed to increase the number of smart, driven, and high potential women in the fulltime MBA program at Carlson. The WMP matches prospective female students with a current student based on career aspirations, background, or overall personality fit.  Prospective students are encouraged to reach out to their mentor with any questions as they make all of the difficult decisions that come along with transitioning to a fulltime MBA program. The WMP also hosts social events so prospective students can build their network before arriving at school. 

Laura Hoffman, Sarah Pritzker, and Meggie Wittorf

Women’s Mentorship Program Leads: Laura Hoffman, Sarah Pritzker, and Meggie Wittorf

While Enrolled: The Forté Fellows Program
The Carlson School also helps women finance their MBA through Forté Foundation Scholarships. Each year, scholarships are awarded to female candidates with exemplary undergraduate academic performance, leadership potential, community contributions, and dedication to promoting women initiatives. Beyond the financial benefit, Forté Fellows also gain exposure to leading companies in the Forté network and get to attend an annual Women’s Leadership Conference with Fellows across the country. The ultimate goal of the Forté Foundation is to direct talented women toward leadership roles in business. 



Group photo

UMN Forte Fellowship recipients attend the Forte Foundation Conference at UCLA Anderson in June 2014

After Graduation: Women’s Leadership Conference
The Women’s Leadership Conference is a student-run conference for professional women throughout the area. During the one-day conference, women are given tools and strategies to fuel inspiration in those around them and have the opportunity to spark new connections with fellow business leaders. The WLC also features keynote addresses by leaders with a passion for diversity, workshops designed to hone skills in key areas, and panel discussions to engage seasoned professionals on important issues. The WLC is both a leadership opportunity for students who organize the event and a personal development opportunity for the women who attend the conference.


Carlson's Women's Leadership Conference

As I mentioned before, this is just a small preview of all of the things that the Carlson School is doing to increase female enrollment in the MBA program and empower women in business. I believe that these efforts will prove to be beneficial, and look forward to the day the female enrollment percentage statistic is no longer a surprise on the first day of orientation!