International Women’s Day is Sunday, 8 March, and we wanted to take this moment to reflect upon the story of women at the Darden School of Business.
Darden granted its first MBA to a woman in 1965 and, over the next decade, that number climbed slowly, up to 39 women by 1978. In the ensuing years, Darden put more effort and resources into recruiting female applicants, and the number of women at the School grew, reaching 25 percent by 1977.
Today, the percentage of women in the full-time MBA program is at an all-time high. The Class of 2021 broke all previous school records, with 40 percent women in the matriculated class, and Darden continues to seek ways to make the School the preferred choice for future female leaders.
The origins of International Women’s Day trace back to the early 20th century, with the first International Women’s Day gathering taking place in 1911. As noted by Forte, a nonprofit organization focused on launching women into fulfilling, significant careers, this day is a time for advocacy, celebration, reflection, unity and more:
“International Women’s Day is global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for a more gender-balanced world. You can make a positive difference for women everywhere with simple, everyday actions.”
We caught up with a few our student leaders to ask them what International Women’s Day means to them. Check out their answers below, and continue to explore the impact of women on the Darden community with our Experience Darden podcast:
Sindara Oyekola (Class of 2020)
International Women’s Day is a day for me to assess where we are as a culture on the role of women in society and for me, I mean culture globally but especially in my country, Nigeria. It is also a day for me to celebrate my intersectionality as a black, African woman and to celebrate all the wonderful, inspiring women around me.
Mary Murphy (Class of 2020)
To me, International Women’s Day is an invitation to take stock of and be proud of the progress we’ve made toward gender equity and to have conversations about what more we can do. For example, here at Darden I am so proud of the fact that we hit 40 percent women in the First Year class for the first time in the School’s history. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate that milestone! However, when I look around my “Mergers & Acquisitions” class, and see just how many more men than women there are, I’m reminded that imbalances remain. I joined the Graduate Women in Business (GWIB) board for both of these reasons — to celebrate and strengthen the community of women in business and to raise awareness of and work to change lingering inequities. On International Women’s Day, I hope the Darden community will join me in both pursuits!
Laura Brokaw (Class of 2020)
To me, International Women’s Day means a reminder to pause and think about all the incredible ways the world and my own life are positively impacted because of the many amazing women in the world.
Jordan Hart (Class of 2020)
For me, International Women’s Day is a celebration of the many wonderful women who have shaped my life. Friends, family, mentors, teachers — I’ve been fortunate to have so many strong female role models. On International Women’s Day, I am reminded of my gratitude to these women for empowering me to be my best and most authentic self, and inspired to pay it forward for future generations of female innovators!
On International Women’s Day, I’m inspired by the words of poet and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who encourages us to break down the boundaries set for us by our genders: “Gender matters everywhere in the world. And I would like today to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.”
Sindara Oyekola recently hosted a webinar with Consortium liason Morolake Thompson (Class of 2020) and Darden Student Association Vice President of Diversity Jade Palomino (Class of 2020). Their conversation touched on a variety of topics, including:
- Frequently asked questions from prospective and admitted women
- The Darden experience
- Recruiting at Darden
- The value of an MBA
- Diversity at Darden