In what is perhaps a promising sign for the future of gender equality in the business world, women are over-represented in the section leadership of the HBS Class of 2016. Forty-nine per cent of section officer-bearers are women, despite women making up only 41% of the class. Even removing the Womens’ Student Association Rep position from the data (as it is only open to women), women still hold 46% of positions.
And the overall numbers are not masking an absence of women at the top. Women hold proportionate representation in the prestigious President and Leadership and Values Rep positions, and are overrepresented in the other high profile positions of Senator, Education Rep, International Rep and Social Rep.
However gender gaps persist. There is just one female Athletic Rep, one female Treasurer and no female Technology Reps, out of a possible 30 positions.
SA spokesperson and Head Senator Adam Shaack said the Student Association was ‘greatly excited but not surprised’ by the results. He commented that ‘equality of opportunity and representation is imperative to a successful HBS and a successful business world.’
Womens’ Students Association Co-President Diana Lee welcomed the news, “The WSA is extremely excited and proud of the strong female representation among the new RC officers.’
‘We believe this will set the tone for meaningful conversations in the classroom and we highly encourage the new female officers to attend WSA events and to leverage our resources, from faculty/alumni connections to our Fireside Chat series about women in leadership, such as Jill Abramson and Kathleen Sebelius.’
The Harbus notes that while gender is the most readily-available cleavage by which to analyze representation, it is not the only or necessarily most meaningful.
Nonetheless, this year’s results represent a significant milestone for a school that only three years ago implemented an across the board strategy to drive up the engagement and representation of women. On this evidence, that effort seems to be bearing fruit.
WSA Co-President Yuliya Orlova remarked, ‘what happens here is a good reflection of the trend in the business world at large.’
‘With all the press around gender at HBS in the last year, I am thrilled to see women taking charge in the classrooms and the social sphere.’