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Women’s History Month and its importance to the Full-Time MBA program

By William Horton-Anderson
Thursday, March 30, 2023

Until the late 1980s, the United States didn’t fully recognize or have a month devoted to the contributions and advancements that women lead for the country. Today, the Broad College’s Full-Time MBA program has students, faculty and staff who continue to push the boundaries and help everyone understand how to support, lift and highlight the achievements of their fellow colleagues. These members wanted to share more about what it means to be a woman in the business world and in the MBA program.

Addison Standlee (she/her/hers)

Addison Standlee headshot

Addison Standlee (JD/MBA Marketing ’24)

Hometown: Boise, ID

Summer Internship: Fahey, Schultz, Burzych, Rhodes PLC

Post-Graduate Career Interest: Corporate/franchise law, sports law, business consulting

Broad News: What do you think is the most pressing issue women are facing outside the business community?

Standlee: Our own internal sense of confidence and belonging. Both in business and beyond, my biggest hurdle to success is often myself. I’m most effective when I believe I deserve the opportunities coming my way and, more than that, when I believe I can and should excel within them.

Broad News: How has your experience as a business professional evolved over time and through the MBA program?

Standlee: As I’ve progressed in my professional life and through the MBA program, my experience has evolved primarily due to my growth in confidence. While I’ve certainly grown in terms of my skillset and abilities, the biggest tool the MBA program has given me is the confidence to embrace and showcase those skills.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive and support women in leadership and business roles?

Standlee: Stop letting us get away with so much self-deprecation, so many apologies and the deflection of positive feedback. Make us embrace and celebrate our successes. Stop letting us say “Sorry to bother you,” “I have a stupid question” and “No worries if not” in our emails and remind us that we don’t have to preface our commentary with “Correct me if I’m wrong” or “This is probably a dumb idea, but….” Contribute to the correction of women’s inadvertent conditioning to shy away from the spotlight, confrontation and conflict.

Fiona Kristo (she/her/hers)

Fiona Kristo headshot

Fiona Kristo (MBA Supply Chain Management and Marketing ’23)

Hometown: Brighton, MI

Summer Internship: Integrated supply chain, Honeywell

Post-Graduate Career Interest: Supply chain management, focusing on process improvement and quality

Broad News: What do you think is the most pressing issue women are facing outside the business community?

Kristo: I don’t believe there is one “most pressing” issue women are facing, but rather an accumulation of institutionalized expectations and standards for behavior that are often contradictory and harmful.

Women are constantly fighting to break free of these restrictions, which often lead to extremely adverse outcomes and backlash. Of these, the violence that women face is particularly concerning, as nearly one in three women has experienced assault throughout their lifetime, often at the hands of an individual who they trust.

Broad News: How has your experience as a business professional evolved over time and through the MBA program?

Kristo: The MBA program has allowed me to not only develop my business acumen but also strengthen my ability to apply this knowledge and generate solutions to problems in real time. I’ve had the opportunity to work across multiple industries and functions and view how business is conducted globally via my courses and internship experiences.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive and support women in leadership and business roles?

Kristo: One of the main issues that inhibits the advancement and success of women in the workplace is the disproportionate amount of non-promotable tasks they are not only assigned but expected to accomplish. Women are often the first people volunteered for time-consuming tasks that are not role-specific, such as committee service, event planning, presentation design and note taking. This is despite the fact that anyone could take part in this work.

What’s worse is that if women are not “happy to help,” they are often viewed in a much more negative light than their male counterparts. Due to this, I believe that in order to be more inclusive and support women in leadership, the business community should think critically about how this work is dispersed amongst their employees and colleagues to ensure that women are not shouldering a disproportionate amount of this labor.

Utsah Shrestha (she/her/hers)

Utsah Shrestha headshot

Utsah Shrestha (MBA Human Resources and Strategic Management and Marketing ’24)

Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal

Career Before Broad: Human resource associate in tech industry

Post-Graduate Career Interest: I want to experience working in a large company and understand their ways and where my interests lie. My preference is in the tech industry, but I am open to options.

Broad News: What do you think is the most pressing issue women are facing outside the business community?

Shrestha: I think the most pressing issues are patriarchy, lack of women’s representation in positions of power, sexism, security, period poverty and stigma.

Broad News: How has your experience as a business professional evolved over time and through the MBA program?

Shrestha: As a business professional, I have had experience in web and graphic designing, marketing and HR. The MBA program has immersed me in a collaborative environment and helped build my network.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive and support women in leadership and business roles?

Shrestha: Here are a few ways the business community can be more inclusive: support female education and learning, provide mentorship opportunities in the business environment, encourage and provide space for women to share their thoughts and ideas, offer more flexibility for women’s needs and provide equal opportunities.

Pratyusha Malhotra (she/her/hers)

Pratyusha Malhotra headshot

Pratyusha Malhotra (MBA Supply Chain Management and Business Analytics ’24)

Hometown: Lucknow, India

Career Before Broad: Management consultant

Post-Graduate Career Interest: Supply chain consulting

Broad News: What do you think is the most pressing issue women are facing outside the business community?

Malhotra: Gender inequality is a pressing issue. We have seen improvements and dialogue, but there is still a long way to go. Women face discrimination and inequality in various forms, including opportunities for education, pay gaps, limited job opportunities and societal biases. The unconscious societal biases can affect how women are perceived and treated in the workplace, which can impact their career progression and work experience.

Women may encounter a “glass ceiling,” where they are prevented from reaching senior leadership positions despite their qualifications and experience.

Broad News: How has your experience as a business professional evolved over time and through the MBA program?

Malhotra: It has evolved by broadening my horizons both on professional and personal front. Professionally, I have evaluated my career choices, learnt to have a more strategic outlook, embraced critical thinking and reflected on the nuances and importance of teamwork and leadership in the business environment.

Personally, working with a diverse group of peers has aided me to build valuable relationships and connections and learn more about other cultures and thought processes.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive and support women in leadership and business roles?

Malhotra: Companies can establish policies and practices that prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion in their recruitment, retention and advancement of employees. This can include initiatives such as diversity and inclusion training, mentorship and sponsorship programs and employee resource groups.

Companies can also actively seek to promote women to leadership roles, providing opportunities for them to develop their skills and advance their careers. This can include establishing leadership development programs and providing coaching and mentoring.

Erika Busch (she/her/hers)

Erika Busch headshot

Erika Busch, MBA business manager

Hometown: Okemos, MI

Broad News: How has your experience as a business professional evolved over time and through the MBA program?

Busch: I have spent my career in higher education student affairs at great institutions in their school or college of business. By nature, business schools consistently evolve and embrace change. That said, I have been fortunate to have been part of programs and experiences that push me in my own professional journey and growth. I have also had the privilege to be around tremendous colleagues, faculty, researchers and thought leaders in the world of business — many of them women!

Broad News: What do you think is the most pressing issue women are facing outside the business community?

Busch: Unfortunately, there are many issues women face globally around safety and security. A pressing issue is economic inequality. The gender pay gap persists and has remained unchanged in this country. One of the ways some nations and companies have begun to address this problem is through pay transparency measures. While still relatively new and small in scale, pay transparency measures have shown some promise in reducing gender inequalities in the workforce.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive and support women in leadership and business roles?

Busch: Many companies and organizations have inclusion policies; however, opportunities do not always feel equal for all. Some of the ways the business community can be more inclusive and support women are by challenging discriminatory behavior and holding people accountable and by fostering and promoting female leadership. An inclusive culture is more creative and innovative.

Andrea McHale (she/her/hers)

Andrea McHale headshot

Andrea McHale, MBA director of graduate admissions and enrollment

Hometown: Eastpoint, MI, but grew up in Shelby Township, MI

Education: B.A. Marketing (MSU), MBA Marketing and Supply Chain Management (MSU), M.A. Educational Studies, and DBA (in progress)

Broad News: How has your experience as a business professional evolved over time and through the MBA program?

McHale: I feel like my experiences have come full circle, being a two-time Broad College of Business student and MBA graduate and now working for the program and college I was once part of as a student.

Prior to joining Broad, my corporate career experiences were in sales, marketing and supply chain management within the automotive and health care industries. I am now responsible for marketing, recruitment, admissions, scholarships and enrollment for the Full-Time MBA program. I am often able to bring my corporate experience and business expertise into supporting process improvements within the MBA program.

Broad News: What do you think is the most pressing issue women are facing outside the business community?

McHale: One of the most pressing societal issues for women is access to health care and education. Women’s health care and education support is disproportionately underfunded. This is particularly disparaging in developing countries and economically disadvantaged areas. I feel that if societal norms shifted to provide equitable support to women’s health and education, it could mitigate the increasing social and economic gender gap.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive and support women in leadership and business roles?

McHale: DEI statements are OK; however, intentional initiatives to support diversity, equity and inclusion are best! Minimally, organizations should provide equal opportunities, including pay, development and advancement, for women. Ideally, governments, educational institutions and businesses will work to implement equitable opportunities for women to initiate reductions in inequalities that attribute to gender gaps. Organizations need to be intentional with their efforts. Without organization and policy changes to support equitable solutions, the UN estimates that it will take 257 years to close the global gender pay gap. However, there are research-based solutions to effectively implement equitable change to support women.

For example, the Harvard Business Review article “How to Close the Gender Gap: You Have to Be Systematic,” by Colleen Ammerman and Boris Groysberg, found that two-thirds of firms are not doing enough to engage and retain women. The authors go on to share an approach to improving gender equity within an organization. Additionally, and not surprisingly, the UN found that women are underrepresented in decision-making roles within government, education and business. Further, our MBA partner Forté Foundation reported that only 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women and only 32% of S&P 500 board members are women. Equitable change needs to occur to provide women a seat at the table in an organization’s decision making. Organizations need to tear down systematic barriers to the advancement of women in the organization.

McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2022 report suggests that organizations take deliberate steps to identify where the largest gap in promotions are for women in their pipeline, make sure women and men are put up for promotions at similar rates and track outcomes. Government, education and business institutions that equitably work to attract and retain female leaders will establish an organization and culture that improves the experience and outcomes for all.

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