Following a decrease in the number of female students enrolling onto their MBA programme, the Johnson Business School at Cornell University has made female recruitment a top priority this year – starting with a two day conference for women only.

“A few years ago, Johnson had one of the top percentages,” says Nsombi Ricketts, director of the office of diversity and inclusion at Johnson, that runs the conference. But the numbers have now slipped down to 31 per cent for the current MBA class. Ms Ricketts believes this is unacceptable. “The representation of women in our class should accurately reflect the number of women in our population,” she says, particularly as an MBA is such a versatile degree that will give women the skill set to further their careers.

The conference, titled The Johnson Women in Business, includes sessions on financing an MBA and how to position yourself as a top female candidate for MBA admissions. Some 40 attendees, chosen through an application process, will be housed with current students and invited to sit in on MBA classes. The conference will also link to other initiatives being run by the school for women, including the Women’s Power Lunch Series, with senior level female executives and the annual Women in Investing Conference.

The school’s ideal target is 35 to 40 per cent. “If we can increase our numbers back to where they were a few years ago, we will be happy,” says Ms Ricketts.

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