While women continue to make up a greater portion of the workforce than ever before, they continue to be only 1/3 of the population of business school students. Why should we care? Studies show that companies with women directors outperform their counterparts without female board members. Simply put, as Elissa Sangster, Executive Director of the Forté Foundation, said recently, “Gender parity in business is not simply the feel-good notion of fairness for all. It's also better for the bottom line.”
As a founding sponsor of the Forté Foundation since its inception over 10 years ago, Chicago Booth continues to support gender equality, both in the boardroom and the classroom, by supporting Forté events. To that end, we invite all of our female prospective students to meet us on the road for the upcoming Forté Forums in 10 cities around the world over the next several weeks. Forté Forums may be one of the best uses of your time in your MBA school research. Packed into just a few hours, each event offers great information through several roads. Still undecided about whether an MBA is for you? Attend the Alumnae Panel (in Chicago and NYC, you’ll hear from Booth alumnae panelists) and find out what the value of the MBA is for women who will talk about both the student and the alumnae experience and the impact on their careers. Certain about the MBA but still looking for the perfect school? Meet with school representatives at the MBA School Fair (Chicago Booth will, of course, be looking for you to stop by our table in each and every city!) and find out what makes each school unique. Have your list of schools ready, and wondering how to snag an acceptance from each? Be sure to sit in on the Admissions Panel (say hi to Emily, who will represent Booth on the panel in Houston) to find out from the source what helps an applicant really stand out, or how to avoid common application blunders.
Besides getting great advice and meeting with admissions staff, Forté Forums are also a great way to network with other pre-MBA women; these strangers are friends you haven’t yet met, and potential future classmates or business partners. The Forum provides an excellent opportunity to network with other motivated and talented women who are looking for what you are; a degree that will push, challenge and inspire you all to reach your career and personal goals. You’ll notice that you’ll start to run into one another and recognize these new contacts at individual school events, both during the application process and later when you’ve been admitted and start attending Admit Weekends—and beyond that, when you’re registering for your first classes!
Forté Forums are some of my favorite events of the entire year; I am always inspired by the soon-to-be MBA women I meet, who are themselves excited, maybe a little nervous, but above all more than ready to take this next big step to gain the knowledge and experience needed to make a change. I particularly love meeting a woman at the Forums, and then reading her application and possibly admitting her to join our class at Chicago Booth. Seeing this relationship through to the end, from attending Admit Weekend to then seeing her at Orientation—these are the moments an admissions director live for! The opportunity to make an impact at the crucial stage of deciding to apply to school is a major motivator for me.
The most important advice I can give you for the Forté Forums is to GO; you will find that other priorities, including work and friends, will try to prevent you from making the trek to your nearest Forum. Put this in proverbial pen in your appointment book—you’ll thank me later! Once you arrive, don’t be shy! Come over, introduce yourself, leave your business card and strike up a conversation with Booth alumnae and staff. Do the same with the woman you sit next to at the Alumnae and Admissions panels and start your MBA network now. I’ll see you myself at the two Forums in New York City so if you’re a Big Apple dweller, I hope you’ll stop by the Chicago Booth table to say hello.