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The Black Hole

Women and the MBA session

BY BETH | JAN 29 2011

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.

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  1. SB / January 30, 2011 at 00:37

    Good luck with the application! I look forward to reading future posts on this topic – it’ll be really neat to hear someone’s thoughts on the transition from science to business in real-time.
    I hadn’t thought about the gender gap in business (especially at the higher levels) until very recently, when I was invited to attend a reception hosted by an organization that connects scientists with industry. It was a novel experience to suddenly be in a room where my gender was outnumbered 20:1 – I had never experienced anything quite like it before. It’s thus extremely encouraging to know that universities like UBC are making an active effort to recruit more diverse applicants, including women, to their MBA class.

  2. Keith / January 30, 2011 at 10:49

    I did the UBC MBA (full time, not part time), and it’s excellent. Having worked with people who’ve done it part time, most wished they had done it full time. The fulltime version concentrates the intensity down to 15 months instead of 3 years, and there’s even more comraderie, etc, among the class because you spend all year together, not just every third weekend.
    Either way, though, the course is great. You’ll enjoy it!

  3. Beth / January 30, 2011 at 21:21

    @SB – Since my eduction is in nutrition and I now work in health care, I’m used to be surrounded by women, so I’m imagining that if I get to do the MBA, it will be quite novel to be surrounded by men!
    @Keith – The people on the panel also mentioned that the full-time students become very close due to the intensity of the program (sounds like you see your classmates *a lot* more than you see your family!). But I really do love my job and am not willing to give it up – plus, the CIHR funding doesn’t even cover the whole of tuition, much less living expenses, so that’s another reason I plan to keep my job! Good to hear that despite the intensity of the program, you really enjoyed it!

  4. Agnes / April 21, 2011 at 19:52

    I hear you with the “not enough women in more senior positions”. I just applied for the S2B scholarship and keeping my fingers crossed. Have an interview at SFU this week and hoping the stars align. Good luck with yours!

  5. […] mentioned over on my other blog that I’d applied for funding from a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) program called the Science to Business (S2B) […]