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Record Percentage of Women To Enter Harvard Business School's MBA Program

Students with consulting and finance backgrounds give way to those with experience in science, technology

By Leanna B. Ehrlich, Crimson Staff Writer

This year’s incoming MBA class at the Harvard Business School will have a greater percentage of women than ever before, according to preliminary statistics released by the school.

Of the 918 students in the MBA Class of 2013, 39 percent will be female. In the two previous classes, women comprised 36 percent of the enrolled students.

Additionally, the Class of 2013 will see greater representation from students with backgrounds in science, engineering, and manufacturing, leading to fewer students in that class hailing from consulting and finance.

The shifts have been part of a change in strategy on the part of the Business School to attract a more diverse student body.

"This admissions strategy has evolved over the last several years of trying to find ways to increase diversity—including gender, race, ethnicity, professional and academic background—without decreasing quality in order to improve the overall educational experience for everyone in the class," Business School spokesperson Brian C. Kenny said in a statement.

A quarter of the incoming class will have had backgrounds in financial services, venture capital, and private equity, compared to 32 percent of the Class of 2012. Meanwhile, students with backgrounds in health care, biotechnology, communications, and manufacturing will comprise 29 percent of the class.

In addition, the percent of students with undergraduate degrees in science and engineering is increasing from 33 percent to 36 percent.

"We think they bring an interesting voice into classroom,” said Deirdre C. Leopold, managing director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid. “To be in a case method classroom, where you need to be able to learn to communicate and be persuasive, is a really good sort of complement to the kind of hard analytical skills that these people learned in undergrad.”

The admission and yield rates have remained relatively constant in recent years. 12 percent of 9,134 applicants were admitted to the Class of 2013, compared with 11 percent of 9,524 applicants for 2012. The yield rate rose slightly from 89 percent to 90 percent.

The Business School has no fixed targets when it comes to industry, geographical, or gender representation, Kenny said.

—Staff writer Leanna B. Ehrlich can be reached at lehrlich@college.harvard.edu.

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