BOSTON—Fifty years ago, in December 1962, the Harvard Business School faculty voted to allow women to apply for the full two years of the MBA Program. By August of the following year, eight women had been accepted and were preparing to begin their studies. In honor of them, the hundreds of women who took part in earlier training courses and programs, and the thousands of women who have followed in their footsteps, Harvard Business School, in conjunction with its Culture and Community Initiative, is designating the 2012–13 academic year as a time to celebrate this milestone and to set an agenda for accelerating the advancement of women leaders who make a difference in the world.
The eight women in the MBA Class of 1965 represented less than one percent of the entering class. This year that number is 40 percent, with women taking on important roles not only in the School's student body but also in its faculty and administration. The School's alumnae across all programs, including MBA and Executive Education, now number more than 11,000.
In the coming year, in honor of 50 years of women in its two-year MBA Program, Harvard Business School is planning a wide range of events and activities, including a comprehensive survey of alumnae and a comparable sample of male graduates about their career and life choices, a case on the history of women at the School, a documentary examining the experiences of women in the MBA Program and after graduation, special sessions in the MBA Program connected to International Women’s Day, a research symposium, and, as a capstone event, a summit that aims to attract more than 800 graduates back to campus in the spring.
HBS will delve deeply and broadly into the issues women face in business, leveraging all of the School's unique resources in research, course development, and teaching to accomplish this. A select group of professors is leading a cross-disciplinary effort to frame these issues and define the conditions necessary for women to be fully integrated into business life at all levels of an organization.
An HBS student club, the Women’s Student Association (WSA), is an integral part of this effort as well. It kicked off the celebration with two high–profile speaking events in October. The first was a keynote address by former HBS professor Dr. Debora Spar, now president of Barnard College and author of a forthcoming book on women in leadership roles. The second event featured Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, a professor at Princeton University and former Director of Policy Planning for the US State Department. Her article in The Atlantic (July/August 2012), “Why Women Still Can't Have It All,” sparked a national discussion on balancing work and family life.
To follow other events throughout the year, go online at: www.alumni.hbs.edu/women50.