When I started my MBA, in August 2014, my son Francesco was 3 months old. When I started my last semester at HBS in my second (EC) year, my daughter Giulia Maria was 1 month old. It’s perhaps unsurprising that the topic of motherhood at business school is one that is close to my heart.
Becoming a mother while at HBS gave me the opportunity to meet with other students who are also mothers. Many of them had similar experiences to mine, but each of us felt we could have been more connected to each other. We realized that if we could collect and curate our combined experiences (including tips and tricks on things like childcare and lactation rooms on campus) we could help future generations of moms at HBS. My classmates and I wanted to institutionalize motherhood at HBS as students.
In pursuit of this effort we created a new group, called moMBAs, within the Women Student Association (WSA). The group focuses on building community and improving the HBS experience for student-moms, moms-to-be, and everyone who is interested in parenthood.
We built a support network of students, faculty, and staff who are committed to ensuring female students, who are mothers or considering motherhood, know that HBS supports their decision. Professors are extremely supportive and many of them are on a list of go-to people for students who are also parents. We worked with CPD (Career and Professional Development Office) to put together a list of coaches who can help students structure a career that takes into account your family needs or who can provide guidance on interviews for family-related issues. All moMBAs are also part of a group on GroupMe and connect on Facebook to share information.
MoMBAs at HBS will also organize a speaker series starting in Fall 2016. Speakers will be women who are working parents, and have thrived at business school and in their careers, while having a family. Even though each of us has personal preferences and priorities, and therefore different strategies to get organized, we believe that debating about this topic can be very helpful. Anna Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America and author of Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family, was invited this year by the WSA to discuss this topic and we plan to keep this conversation going in the years ahead.
During my second year at HBS, I decided to find a way to integrate my interest in the topic of motherhood into my studies. My classmate Carina Rutgers and I had the opportunity to turn this into an independent project on motherhood at HBS that was supervised by Professor Frances X. Frei. The project hinged on the consideration that in our professional careers we will all deal with parenthood, as managers or coworkers, even if parenthood is not part of our own personal lives. This is an important message for students at a business school, who will encounter this issue throughout their lives.
Looking back I’m so glad I didn’t overthink my decision to come to HBS with a 3 month old – I just did it. My husband is extremely proud of me, totally understanding of my needs as a person, not just as a mother. He was able to come to Boston with his job and support me – this really completed the picture for me.
My experience at HBS has been a wonderful one. I can’t think of a better place than Boston and the HBS campus to raise two little kids. I have made lifelong friends, the services for families on campus have been amazing, and the community has fully embraced me and my family.
I hope that any moms (and moms to be) considering business school know there is a strong network of support at HBS. Admitted students who are parents will be provided with a welcome package that presents all the information they need. And we encourage prospective students to contact us directly with any questions at erodighiero+mba2016.hbs.edu or Tina Chen (tchen+mba2017.hbs.edu).