About a year ago, I blogged at the CIHR Science to Business program – a funding mechanism “designed to encourage individuals with PhDs in a health related field to pursue an MBA.” Well, being one of those people with a PhD in a health related field who is in a career involved in translating knowledge to practice in health services, I’ve decided to apply! I’ll be chronicling aspects of this application process here on the Black Hole, starting with today’s posting on my recent attendance at an MBA Info Session.
Given that tuition for an MBA is in the range of $40K and given that I still owe about $40K in student loans from the whole BSc/MSc/PhD thing and the fact that I’m not willing to increase my student debt any further, I can’t at this point pursue an MBA without the funding. The Science to Business funding has a few restrictions on the type of programs it will fund – for example, you cannot pursue an Executive MBA with this funding, only a regular MBA. As well, you must do your MBA at a Canadian school, which rules out doing any of the distance education MBAs from a foreign school. I also intend to do the MBA part-time, as I absolutely love my job and wouldn’t give it up to go back to school ((in fact, I really want to do my MBA because it will provide me with skills and knowledge that I need to go further in my current career, not to change careers)), so I need something local. So that really leaves my options to UBC, SFU, or UVic. SFU’s part-time MBA program focuses on technology, which is not my area of interest and UVic’s part-time program is offered in the evenings, which wouldn’t be practical given that it is on the island.
So UBC it is! UBC’s part-time MBA application is due in the fall, so they aren’t currently having info sessions on it. They did, however, recently have an info session for the full-time program that focused on “Woman and the MBA.” And being (a) a women and (b) interested in gender issues and careers ((see here and here)), ((and, honestly, (c) a lover of free food. I can’t help it – after 11 years of post-secondary education, I’m conditioned to be attracted to any event with free food)), it seemed like a good session to attend.
At the info session, I learned that only about 20% of the MBA class are female (slightly higher in the part-time program). And, not surprisingly, the issues that were raised were much the same issues that we hear about that keep the numbers of women in academics, particularly at the more senior levels, low. Forefront among the issues being that women are typically the primary caregivers for children, which doesn’t work so well with an intensive program like the MBA. At one point, a member of the audience asked a question about why their were fewer women than men with MBAs and the answer came back that women who do enrol in the program do just as well as the men – it’s just that fewer women apply and enrol.
So, much like in the sciences, MBA programs are looking for ways to recruit more women to the field. UBC’s MBA program appears to really value diversity of experiences in their program – it seems to be something that they strive for as they look at applicants – as a lot of the work is done in groups and having a diverse group brings many more perspectives to a given problem. So their students come from a plethora of backgrounds – not just those with business undergrad degrees – they have architects and lawyers and computer science and biologists and artists, etc. And clearly having men comprise 80% of their class doesn’t represent the diversity of experiences they are looking for.
At the info session I also learned about the program in general and hearing from current students and alumnae convinced me even more than I already had been that this degree would fill a valuable gap in my knowledge background that will allow me to work within the health care system to provide better evidence-based health services to Canadians. And so I embark on the joy that is completing a CIHR funding application! I’ll be sure to update you on my journey along the way.