During the first year, all MBA students pursue the Required Curriculum. Within the RC, students participate in facilitated discussions about the impact of gender, race, and other social identities on groups, teams, and organizations. In the second year, students have the opportunity to pursue related interests through independent projects and to enroll in elective courses.


Cases With Women Protagonists

A robust body of experimental research indicates that seeing or hearing about women who have achieved professional success or attained leadership roles improves women’s self-perception and academic performance. And while leadership has traditionally been coded as masculine, exposure to women in positions of authority has been shown to counter that stereotype. 

The Gender Initiative works with faculty and staff across HBS to track, promote, and increase the publication and classroom use of cases with female protagonists. In addition, the Initiative serves as a resource for students interested in cases featuring women leaders and maintains a collection of cases with female protagonists available to students and instructors at the Harvard Business Publishing website.

View Cases

Independent Projects

During the Elective Curriculum year, students also have the opportunity deepen their knowledge in a particular area of interest through independent projects with a field or research focus. Under faculty supervision, students may work alone or in teams on a project that advances their learning in a particular topic area. Current students can find registration information and policies here (login required). In recent years, students have conducted a variety of independent projects related to gender, diversity, and inclusion. Some recent examples include:

Strategies for Success in Consulting

Consulting is one of the most common career paths for both female and male business-school graduates, but women continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles within the industry. Through a series of interviews with senior men and women at prominent consulting firms, this project examined challenges and pathways to career development for women in the industry.

Proposal for an HBS Women’s Council

The purpose of an HBS Women’s Council is to engage a set of accomplished female alumnae and students on the most pressing issues that women face at all stages of the HBS lifecycle, uniting the efforts across the school to enable the greatest impact.

Reducing Stereotype Threat at HBS

Stereotype threat has been defined as the risk of confirming a negative stereotype about one's social identify group (e.g., women, African Americans, people with disabilities). Stereotype threat can cause people in the stereotyped group to perform below their actual ability. When does stereotype threat occur at HBS and what changes or tools might diminish it?