The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School said Wednesday that its incoming MBA class will be majority women for the first time in the school’s 140-year history.
Nearly 52 percent of the Class of 2023 will be women, a 10 percent increase from last year as the school looks to promote diversity and inclusion efforts throughout its program, according to a Wednesday press release.
The milestone also makes Wharton the first of the so-called “M7” elite MBA programs to admit more women than men, The Wall Street Journal noted Wednesday.
The other M7 schools are the Harvard Business School, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the MIT Sloan School of Management, Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and the Columbia Business School.
Wharton on Wednesday attributed the gains to moves made in recent years by its dean, Erika James, and deputy dean, Nancy Rothbard.
James, the first woman ever appointed to lead the prestigious business school, called the boost in female enrollment a “landmark achievement,” which she added “demonstrates Wharton’s commitment to providing a diverse and representative community for our students.”
“As a female leader, I understand firsthand the significant impact that experiencing meaningful gender representation can have on women as they chart their careers,” she said. “I also note the sobering reality that, even in 2021, women still command a small percentage of leadership positions in the corporate arena."
“If industry truly desires its organizations—and the leadership within them—to reflect the world around us, we must improve the diversity of the pipeline of future business leaders,” she said. “In short, this crucial work must start here.”
Maryellen Reilly, deputy vice dean of Wharton’s MBA program, said Wednesday, “As we do every year, we made a conscious effort to ensure female applicants felt wanted and welcomed at Wharton, and showed them the many resources and communities in our program where they can connect, collaborate and feel supported.”
“While we are extremely proud to welcome this record number of women to our MBA community this year, we do hope that equitable gender representation soon becomes the norm among business schools, rather than the exception,” Reilly explained.
In addition to the surge in female representation, Wharton also said that LGBTQ+ representation reached an all-time high, with 7 percent of the Class of 2023 identifying as members of the community.
The incoming class’ average GMAT score also reached 733, the highest ever recorded among a first-year class at Wharton.
Updated at 11:34 a.m.