What is the WSA?

The WSA, or Women’s Student Association, is a student-led organization at Harvard Business School for anyone who identifies as a woman. We’re the largest student organization on campus.

What do we do?

Our role is to make the women at HBS feel supported, both professionally and personally. Our mission is to connect, empower, and celebrate the next generation of women leaders. We feel it's our responsibility to ensure the women in our campus community have the resources and allies they need to thrive, both as HBS students and as future leaders. We are committed to furthering gender equity at HBS and beyond. We have an incredible list of sponsors who, through their funding and support, help us deliver extensive programming for all members. Some of the highlights of our club include:

Annual Women Business Conference

Every year the WSA hosts a Women in Business Conference. It’s open for all to attend (including prospective students!). This past February we returned to hosting a fully in-person conference, themed “Lead to Empower,” featuring keynote speakers including Dakota Johnson (Actress and Producer at TeaTime Pictures), Natalie Massenet (Founder of Net-a-Porter and Founding Partner at Imaginary Ventures), and Angela F. Williams (President and CEO of United Way Worldwide) as well as 7 panels and a startup pitch competition. Panel speakers included women execs from big tech, AI startups, medical fields, and NGOs, and female founders of Flour Bakery, Landit, Helaina, Maude, and more. Our inaugural Female Founders Pitch Competition awarded $15K to the top three winners, amongst five final teams who pitched to 5 VC judges from firms such as Bessemer, Co-efficient, and Matrix, live on stage.

Academics Team and Careers Team

Our academics and careers teams work tirelessly to make sure that HBS women are supported in their professional endeavors. The WSA has become known for their “final review sessions,” where RC (first-year) women take the stage in Klarman Hall and present the content covered during the term to their peers to help them study for exams. The WSA final review sessions have become invaluable to everyone! We also have WSA-only career fairs, workshops on negotiating your offer letter, and more.

Events & Community

The WSA acts as a conduit between faculty, students, and the broader female leaderships outside of HBS. We have hosted speakers on campus such as Indra Nooyi (ex-CEO of Pepsi), Ginni Rometty (ex-CEO of IBM), and Nurtac Afridi (CEO of Godiva). We also strive to provide an environment where women can share thoughts that are more intimate and specific to women, by hosting workshops around topics such as fertility.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Team

We understand that intersectionality is important. Our DEI team works across the club to make sure we are accounting for all forms of representation, not just gender. The team also works with other student organizations, such as PRIDE and the African American Student Union.

Social Events

Of course, a large part of the HBS experience is meeting new people and making lifelong friends. Whether it’s small group dinners or happy hours, the WSA regularly hosts events to bring our community of women together.

Who are we?

Michelle Cheng (MBA 2023), co-president of the WSA

I am originally from Beijing, and I moved to the US for college and work. Growing up I have been constantly shocked (and frankly frustrated) by a lack of female role models for me and was surprised by the under-representation of female leaders in prominent positions. At my job in finance before HBS, I saw the professional and personal struggles that women, and particularly women of color, face. I’ve strived to help recruit more women into male-dominated places. I am passionate about helping advance gender equity, while also considering how gender interacts with other forms of identity. I am grateful to be a part of the WSA, which has given me an incredible opportunity to contribute to the community of women on campus.

Emily Roberts (MBA 2023), co-president of the WSA

Supporting women personally and professionally is a priority in my life and it’s what drove me to run for WSA leadership, as well as to pursue entrepreneurship after HBS to fill the gap in support for women navigating life transitions (childbearing, re-entry in the workforce and caregiving for loved ones). Prior to HBS, I spent 7+ years in financial services where early on I joined grassroots efforts to increase female employee representation in the workforce. Looking back, I can see how this experience ultimately informed why I’ve shaped my career around women’s empowerment. I co-built and led the first DEI program for a 600-person division and, as part of my last role at the firm, led the initiative to help the firm better serve underrepresented investor demographics, including creating our women’s investor education program. I look forward to staying in touch with the wonderful women I’ve met during my time at school, and meeting so many more in the years to come!

This post was originally posted by the MBA Voices blog.