PISCATAWAY, NJ—Rutgers business school director Sharon Lydon says that the incoming "freshman" MBA class next year will be mostly female, the first time that this has happened.
Further, Rutgers has achieved this distinction ahead of schools that the US News and World Report regards more highly, such as the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and the Harvard program.
Along with numerous other MBA programs, Rutgers has been striving to reach parity between women and men in its student body.
This goal has been elusive, says Lydon. "We've had a very close number of women and men in the MBA program in the last few years. It's been steadily growing."
"I've actually attended academic conferences where schools have been challenged by how few women they have in the program."
Lydon mentioned that Rutgers was "lucky" to have "a strong representation of women in the past few years."
Lydon credits Rutgers groups, such as the International Club and Women in Business, with bringing women into the MBA program. It also helped that the school's culture, imparted from student orientation onwards, focused on teamwork and on people assisting one another.
Rutgers' program has 233 full-time students, as compared to Wharton's 1,677 and Harvard's 1,851.
The founder of Leading Women Enterpreneurs, Linda Wellbrock, a Fairleigh Dickenson MBA, expressed "surprise" that Rutgers had been first to reach 50% women.
Wellbrock pointed out that less than 3% of all corporate board members are women, a strong indicator of the disadvantages women face in the business world.
She said, "With more diversity, companies have found that revenues increase and the overall production of their companies increase as well. I think [and hope] that's going to be a trend we see more of."
Wellbrock also predicted parity between of men and women in undergraduate business school programs will spread to other schools.
"We're just going to see that flow nationally."