Posted by: Alison Damast on April 1, 2010
Women undergraduates interested in pursuing a career in business may want to check out a new online tool put out last week by the Forte Foundation, a consortium of schools working to increase the number of women pursuing MBAS.
The new interactive game, called Career Gal Road Trip, is designed for college women and recent graduates who are contemplating a business major or uncertain about their career goals, the organization says. It lets students explore different business majors and career paths by participating in a game that lets them make virtual work and life decisions about everything from whether they should exit the workforce to pursue an MBA to starting a family. The path that the player chooses eventually leads the student to a video segment showcasing an interview with a successful woman in business who followed a similar career trajectory. For the game, the organization interviewed 35 women from a wide range of backgrounds, from entrepreneurs to investment bankers.
The game is the brainchild of Forte Executive Director Elissa Ellis Sangster, who said she was frustrated because she felt the organization was not reaching as many college women as it could at events Forte organized around the country.
“We were looking for ways to leverage our content and put it online so women could have access to it, but in a fun and interactive way,” says Sangster. “We’d put together panels on college campuses and get 100 women to show up for the event, but we knew there were so many more women on campus that we weren’t reaching.”
Reaching women early in their careers is key, Sangster says. In a joint study conducted by the Forte Foundation and McKinsey & Company in 2007, more than 85% of women surveyed said that they believed it was important to expose women to business early in their careers, whether in high school or college. Among women who graduated from an MBA program, 28% decided they wanted to pursue business while in college, while another 20% did so in high school, the survey showed.
It's important that women are exposed to business early for a very good reason: if they are, there's a chance they may choose business as a career, or at least consider it. New research shows that 58.6% of college freshmen say there's a possibility they'll change their major, while one in five students, or 20.3%, are undecided about their major, according to a report released by the Higher Education Research Institute this January.
The Forte Foundation's new online game will allow the organization to do more effective outreach to this college-age population, which in turn could translate to more women in MBA programs, Sangster says.
Women at the Forte Foundation’s 37 member schools make up just 31.7% of b-school enrollment for the 2009-10 academic year, down from 32% in 2008-09, according to Forte.
"It’s a tough audience, so we’re hoping we can appeal to them by having this content online," Sangster says. “Hopefully, this will help build clarity for women as they pursue those first career steps."