The national average for women in business school is 31%, and Haas School of Business is no different. All of my classes have been majority male, except in Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) where two-thirds of my classmates are female. Such a stark difference should have registered sooner, and yet it took me until the third week of the class to notice.

Why?

I’ve become accustomed to seeing more women involved in social impact. Whether I look to leadership for Net Impact or the Global Social Venture Competition at Haas, or my fellow Environmental Studies majors in undergraduate, there have always been more women than men.

Do I believe women have more of an affinity to social causes?

Absolutely. My anecdotal suspicions were confirmed in class, as Professor McElhaney highlighted that women are more likely to:

  • volunteer
  • investigate, purchase, and invest based on a company’s CSR profile
  • factor CSR into a job-search, and
  • participate in company-sponsored CSR initiatives.

Since women make 80% of the purchasing decisions in the U.S., this should fill me with hope.

So why is purchasing power not enough?

Because nothing can de-emphasize statistics on the “glass ceiling” for women in leadership. In academia, while women earn more than half of all Ph.D. degrees, they compromise only 45% of tenure-track faculty, 31% of tenured faculty and only 24% of full professorships. The statistics for women in business are even more disheartening, where only 15.7 percent of corporate officers in the Fortune 500 are women and 95% of top earning positions are dominated by men.

So where do I find hope for women in leadership?

81% of European CEOs are focusing on sustainability, which means CSR issues are gaining traction within organizations at executive levels. Given their demonstrated affinity for CSR, women are more likely experts and therefore equipped to take leadership roles in this exponentially-growing space.

Market trends are finally demanding what generations of women pioneers could not: the need for women executives.Let’s hope expectations become reality!

—MRast