Across the U.S. today, women fill 58 percent of undergraduate classrooms, 62 percent of graduate classrooms, and up to 45 percent of business-school classes. In 2021, Wharton boasted the first MBA class among the M7 schools to welcome more women than men. Yet just over 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women CEOs. We have come a long way. But achieving enrollment equality at the top business schools is only the start of building a strong pipeline of women who will soon occupy seats at the head of the table. Wharton Women in Business (WWIB) has sought to nurture and grow a community of strong, ambitious women and empower them on their journeys during business school and beyond. Striving for parity at the top will require a mind-set shift of women, men, and allies that WWIB continues to propagate through its programming and events.
This year, WWIB seeks to incorporate more voices into the community and elevate the conversation beyond just challenges in the workplace. The Wharton Women’s Summit in September invited men and allies to attend and join the conversation for the first time. Understanding that achieving parity starts long before we step into the corporate office, our Thought Leadership committee will host roundtables and curate articles and blog posts to instigate dialogue among peers outside of the classroom. In partnership with the McNulty Leadership Program, Women’s Roundtables provide the platform for small groups to engage in high-level conversations. Getting C-suites and boardrooms up to 50 percent women also means that men and partners must be equally willing to accept caretaking roles — that’s just one example of an area we hope to explore further in dialogue.
WWIB, through these activities and its many committees, serves women and their allies with targeted programming, well-rounded career and life coaching, and more. The WWIB community supports nearly a thousand students at Wharton, and its leadership strives to support each and every woman in her professional and life journey.
Published as “More Than Just a Seat at the Table” in the Fall/Winter 2023 issue of Wharton Magazine.