Mr. Jan W., a risk analyst from CQS, who was interviewing me for the MiF admissions, did not expect to be asked why for every girl on the course there’re as many as 9 guys. He only said that he’d absolutely love to have the proportion levered up a bit…
The most universally accepted answers that people throw at you in situations like that are “gender inequality”, “glass ceiling”, unbearable hardness of “juggling commitments” with “family obligations”, all of which are usually followed by the respondent pulling on a condescending mask of grave pity. Why this version of truth and attitude haven’t become extinct yet is beyond my understanding – its not the 50’s anymore in most corners of our society. Take me, for example. My life is not hard, my life is wonderful; I am not juggling – I am finding time to do things I enjoy; I don’t have family obligations – I have people I love and care about the most in the world; I am not committed for life – I make my own choices, take pleasure in keeping busy and climbing up the Maslow pyramid.
Is my case ordinary? The only child, I was originally meant to be a boy called Ivan. That didn’t quite work out for my parents, – they had to deal with a little curly me, …and repaint the nursery. Their aspirations, however, transitioned into my daddy teaching me to play a guitar, chess, drive a car age 5, etc. In Russia kids go to mixed schools and only learn about some sort of inequality by reading foreign magazines. Probably the aftermath of communist days, we are brought up to share everything in our lives – when my great-grandpa went to the WWII, my great-grandma was in Moscow working as an armed guard at a gun manufacturing factory, while my granny was less than 2 years old.
I will not be so ignorant as to say that the problem doesn’t exist. It does, and the gender proportion of the business school intakes falls under its umbrella, together with numerous other examples, which routinely feature in high-profile conferences, workshops and change initiatives. But constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating. Changing the public’s attitude is astronomically hard; while taking it one person at a time is stomachable.
So ladies, if you are even slightly considering applying to MiF, no matter your background, please remember that “inequality” is actually about “diversity”. There is no one-size-fits-all profile – you can read the details of LBS students on the website while I will shed light on the statistics that are left undisclosed by school’s official brochures – about our girl’s personal life and work. The best thing about doing the census was the unanimous “what gender inequality…?” response to me mentioning the topic of the post.
I am not a feminist. I would just like to see more of inspired and empowered ladies who are not being dramatic or paranoid, who step outside the comfort zone of clichés. Maybe we don’t rule the world, but we definitely make it go round.
Post Scriptum: My intake showed a more up-beat result – 3 girls for every 7 guys; and according to the MiF program office our course is exceptionally close, fun and overachieving (and not forgetting LBS MiF confirming its N1 World ranking this year). I hope the admissions levels are representative of the level of applications and this notion becomes a steady trend. Our exceptionally charismatic professor H. Moon taught us during one of the Org. Behavior classes that people perform better in co-educational environment . So for the business school guys the current situation is less performance enhancing than for the girls, isn’t it ;)?