An article in Forbes is critical of business schools, claiming that they don’t do a good job preparing women for the multiple roles that they will play when they graduate. The author claims that b-schools focus exclusively on the roles at work and fail to help women (and men) plan ahead for how their work will eventually affect their lives, as well.
As a 1988 MBA graduate of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, I am happy to be able to disagree. I didn’t realize it at the time, but a panel discussion I attended one weekend during b-school completely changed my perspective on life and how I made decisions regarding work and family.
Many of my female colleagues (who at the time made up approximately 30% of the MBA class; I think that number is similar today even though my school is missing from this list!) were not married (like me) and did not have children, but were still interested in hearing about life after b-school. These women spoke honestly and candidly about the fact that women, more so than men, would have multiple lives and roles after b-school. They presented us with the stark facts that by virtue of getting married and having children, we would make career decisions that would take us off the path we had in mind today which would ultimately lead us to have several different career paths. “What?! I was going to be a CEO by 30!”
As I veered off this path for the first time as we moved to State College, Pennsylvania. I was filled with dread after I left my job, but I was not surprised. I had been prepared for this by the panel of alums who alerted us to the fact that we might have to choose between our marriage and a promotion one day, which I had done. As a result, I discovered a new passion and career path, college teaching. As a result of that new road taken, I am now a b-school professor myself. Now, it is my turn to prepare a new generation of women for the speed bumps ahead in life and work.