Empowering women in business: 8 reasons for an MBA

February 01, 2023

Why an MBA can be a career springboard for women

Women in management positions are still a rarity, although in many companies they are just as qualified and competent as their male colleagues. According to the latest statistics, the companies with the greatest financial success are also those with the most female leaders.

But despite many initiatives and efforts by governments, companies and NGOs, there is still a large gender gap, especially at higher management levels. Women leaders still have to fight prejudices and stereotypes and often have to work harder to get into management positions and thereby strengthening gender diversity in senior management roles.

One solution that can help women overcome these hurdles is an MBA program. An MBA program offers women the opportunity to expand their leadership skills and knowledge and gain valuable skills in a competitive job market. Women with MBA degrees tend to have better career opportunities and higher incomes than women without them. So an MBA degree can help more women overcome the obstacles on their way to a successful career and realize their full potential.

Barbara Stöttinger

As Dean of the WU Executive Academy, Prof. Barbara Stöttinger knows firsthand the valuable benefits an MBA degree brings. While all executives can benefit from such a degree, Stöttinger has found that it helps female executives in particular in their personal and professional development. She highlights 8 benefits that an MBA brings to all aspiring professionals, focusing on the empowering impact for women:

1. Professional network spanning the globe

As female leaders, establishing and maintaining a valuable professional network can make all the difference. An MBA program offers women in business the opportunity to build valuable relationships with other leaders who can help them develop their careers. Women can learn firsthand from the experiences of other leaders in different industries and countries, and expand their management and leadership expertise. A solid network can also help women increase their professional visibility and credibility, which in turn can increase their chances of advancing to leadership positions.

MBA participants particularly appreciate the opportunities to network internationally with other executives and to establish contacts with added value. They actively use the mutual support within the group, even long after graduation. It is not uncommon for female MBA colleagues to found companies together or to recommend someone from their class to business partners because they know exactly the strengths and weaknesses of their comrades. With an MBA, women in business can not only expand their network, but also strengthen their skills and self-confidence to succeed in their careers.

2. From technical knowledge to strengthening soft skills and diversity

Female leaders can not only improve their business know-how and leadership skills with the right MBA, but also specifically enhance their soft skills. Targeted training in management and leadership offers women the chance to develop their particular skills in a diverse group of like-minded colleagues. This not only promotes diversity in the classroom, but also a sense of diversity in the everyday lives of women managers. In addition, the MBA program provides participants with an ideal environment in which to learn to work in heterogeneous teams, navigate time constraints, and strategically evaluate risk. Through the challenges of this setting, female executives can specifically hone their business acumen and sense of potential business opportunities. Targeted management training can thus be the key for women to successfully start in leadership positions or take their careers to the next level.

3. Strengthen your self-confidence

Managers need to have a healthy level of self-confidence in their jobs. An MBA program can help women strengthen their powers of persuasion, defend their point of view, and take on challenges with confidence. By learning to make decisions together in a diverse environment, female executives can improve their management and leadership skills. In addition, an MBA program offers the opportunity to sharpen one's understanding of one's role as a leader and to be prepared for future challenges. Learning in a class community with a high percentage of women can help women become more confident and improve their career opportunities.

4. Success together: networking at eye level

In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of women executives entering MBA programs, to the point where they already make up over 50% of some MBA classes. This offers women in the profession a unique opportunity to exchange ideas with like-minded people and share best practices. They can learn from each other about how best to thrive in challenging business environments while continuing to build their management and leadership skills. More women in the class community also promotes diversity and strengthens the network of female leaders.

5. How a change of perspective paves the way for career development

A career often requires a broad view of things and an ability to think from different perspectives. For women who want to pursue management education, an MBA offers the opportunity to broaden their horizons and restructure their own thinking. During their studies, women will work with other women managers and learn from them how to be a leader in difficult situations. An MBA program requires participants to think big and challenge themselves in a whole new way. This results in women improving their leadership skills and realizing their potential by working on their personal and professional development. Through interdisciplinary collaboration and the exchange of ideas and best practices, women are empowered to achieve their career goals and succeed at the executive level.

6. Extra portion of credibility

A Master of Business Administration is an excellent qualification to achieve these goals. Acquiring business know-how and leadership skills will give you an extra dose of credibility that will stand you in good stead when applying for top positions. An MBA degree from a reputable international provider shows recruiters that you have the ambition and skills to learn new things and successfully put them into practice. It is an important step in achieving your professional goals and advancing your career.

7. Strategic career development

For successful strategic career development, a sound management education is indispensable. An MBA program not only provides access to modern management knowledge and innovative methods of doing business, but also teaches a wide range of skills that are essential for successful professional development. Female leaders in particular appreciate the opportunity to strengthen their leadership skills during their studies and to define and achieve their career goals through the personal support of career experts. Through the diverse career services, such as career workshops, CV checks and counseling sessions, they receive valuable support in exploring professional development opportunities and challenges in an increasingly digitalized world.

8. Flexibility

For women leaders, balancing a job, family and continuing education can be a challenge. That's why the flexibility offered by many MBA programs is an invaluable advantage. By continuing their education while working and using digital learning formats, they can expand their skills in a targeted way and sharpen their professional profile without interrupting their career progression or putting their families on the back burner.

What distinguishes women in leadership roles?

Women often have different experience and skills than men in leadership roles. A study by the consulting firm McKinsey has shown that companies with women leaders in management positions achieve better results. One possible explanation is that women often have more developed skills in the areas of empathy and social intelligence and bring in a different leadership style. This can help them have a better understanding of their employees and customers and communicate more effectively. Women can also serve as role models and inspire other female employees to apply for higher positions as well. A balanced gender diversity in senior positions can thus contribute to a better working atmosphere and higher employee engagement.

Why are there so few women in leadership positions?

There are many reasons why women are underrepresented in management positions. One of the main reasons is still the traditional distribution of roles in the family and society, which often makes it difficult for women to combine career and family. Stereotypical ideas of gender roles and behavioral expectations can also lead to women being disadvantaged in executive teams. In addition, there are structural barriers, such as lack of advancement opportunities and unequal pay, that can prevent many women from advancing to a leadership role. Research also shows that women are often less confident in their abilities than men, making them more likely to hold back when it comes to career opportunities. Another challenge is that networks and mentoring programs are often dominated by men, which can make it difficult for women to access important career resources. To increase gender diversity, these structural and social barriers must be broken down. Companies should ensure equal opportunities and pay for women and men and take steps to achieve balanced representation in leadership positions. In addition, it is important to provide targeted support for women by giving them access to career resources such as mentoring programs, further training, and networks.

Women in management positions
Women in management positions © Eurostat

Successful into the future: Take charge of your career with an MBA

In conclusion, there are still many challenges for women in leadership positions, but also many opportunities and possibilities. MBA programs can play an important role in supporting women's career development and increasing a diverse workforce by providing necessary competencies and skills while offering them the flexibility to balance a job, family and studies. Digital transformation and advances in technology have revolutionized learning and working, and women now have more access and resources than ever before to advance their careers. By striving for excellence and pursuing opportunities, women in leadership positions can play a more significant role in the future of business and effect change.

We encourage women to take on the challenges, be proactive, and learn about our MBA program to take their careers to the next level.

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