HEC: Women-management-leadership

28 01 2010

As early as 2008, HEC had announced its partnership with Goldman Sachs in its 10000 women intiative. For those who do not know, quoting the HEC official website:

“The 10,000 Women program supports partnerships with universities and development organizations to provide a generation of women in under-served areas around the world with a business and management education. This initiative is grounded in the belief that expanding the entrepreneurial talent and managerial pool in these economies especially among women is one of the most important, yet too often neglected, means of increasing economic opportunity.”

Now, there are a lot of things that can be discussed on this topic. I am going to touch upon a few and let my friends put their thoughts on this.

If you look at women in formal management, they have been there since quite some time – for HEC, the first women candidates were admitted in 1973 when 27 women were in the school (Source). HEC jeunes filles (HECJF) alumni include, for example, Édith Cresson, the first and to date the only woman to have held the office of Prime Minister of France.

In many societies, women have the control of household finance, and day-to-day management. However, it had not got reflected outside the home. Coming into formal management meant a big leap not just for the women, but also a big shift in the thinking of men around them who accepted them into mainstream leadership. (Else, you had to be a ‘Queen’ in order to lead people!). The world wars had initiated the leadership of women in the healthcare and hospitality sector. Although always dominated by men (are they scared!?) women inched ahead in leading.

As of today, women make 46% of the global workforce. The number is close to, though less, than 50%. In the US, the number of working women is more than working men but – only 16% are in managerial and only 4% are in top-leadership positions. (Numbers taken from Internet Search results – may have got updated since last change.)

Why it is important for women to be in a management school is more than just the diversity part of the reasons. They bring in a new look into the campus, a new insight into the cases being studied and a new culture of acceptance and acceleration in management. At times, the word ‘new’ as used in the previous statement can be synonymous with ‘different’, and it varies from person to person whether it is a positive change or a negative change. But the fact is that the change is better than having no women in the b-school or worse – showing that we support women candidates but taking in very few in the actual class (yes, some schools and companies do this kind of managerial hypocrisy).

Apart from window-dressing kind of reasons mentioned above, there has been an acceptance of actual ‘value addition‘ to the curriculum, school and management in the real world out of the campus.

There have been quite a number of economies that have been re-energized by entrepreneurial activity – and most of the very successful ones (in the midst of zero probability of survival) have been led by groups of women!

Have a look at this book (click on the pic on the right). Focusing on entrepreneurship, it does make sense on the way women have brought positive change:

The 10000 women programme was initiated in March 2008 by Goldman Sachs, which is donating US$100 million (or $1,000 each to 10,000 women) over five years. The money will help improve the entrepreneurial skills of working women in 16 countries by giving them access to a world-class business and management education.

The programmes are intended to help open doors for women whose financial and practical circumstances would normally prevent them from receiving a traditional business education.

Indra Nooyi (Click on the pic), says: If there is a glass ceiling, remember it is made of glass and it can be easily broken. All you have to do is try.

How do we objectively present the value addition of women in management, and particularly – leadership? I would like the readers to comment on this.

Have a look at these links:

How remarkable women lead- The breakthrough model for Work and Life
HEC has been a driving force behind the feminisation of management, with women constituting more than one-third of every cohort since the 1980s. One sign of the School’s special focus on this area was its 2001 creation of HEC WOMEN’S Commission. Click here.

Whatever be the views that you gather from numerous studies and the links above, I personally feel that there should be more involvement of women in management and leadership roles.
There are positive effects as well as negative effects, but ask me about ‘educating women in formal management’ – that’s a huge YES!
Would love to hear your comments!