I’m sure that some of you seriously interested in business school read the New York Times articles last week. For those who haven’t found them yet, the initial article was about the gender divide at Harvard, followed by a second one on the wealth divide.
My first impression was that the articles must be overblown. I hadn’t heard anything that drastic when I was researching schools. Yes, top business schools tend to be about 35% female and 65% male. And yes, there are enormous wealth divides between those who are on financial aid (yay non profit veterans!) and those who come from finance or have family money. But still, I couldn’t believe that students would be so insular as to not overcome such differences.
My second feeling was one of immense relief that I was at the GSB, which clearly couldn’t have such problems. I mean, it’s California. It’s the land of sunshine and wonderfulness.
If you hadn’t figured it out from earlier posts, by now you must be realizing that I’m generally a very optimistic person. I like to see the happy side of things. I like to believe that people are good and that they wouldn’t let something like gender or money influence the way they treat others. Unfortunately, this is one of many cases in which I started off a bit too optimistic.
I participated in a couple conversations with classmates about the articles (it seems like everyone read them immediately) and heard a bunch of stories about Harvard that confirmed what was written in the article. Then Dean Saloner mentioned the articles during his welcome speech last Sunday. He spoke about emails he had received from students, some of which were grateful that their GSB experiences hadn’t mirrored those described at Harvard, but also others that described similar experiences at the GSB.
Since I’ve only been here a week, I can’t say for sure what the GSB experience is like. Perhaps I didn’t realize that there was a possibility of such extreme social divides because there’s less of it at the GSB than at Harvard. Or perhaps I was just naïve. In either case, my hope is that in the coming two years gender and wealth will never be an issue. The articles have certainly spurred a lot of conversations and a high level of awareness about the potential issues. If such divides still occur, then it will be because individuals are consciously choosing to perpetuate them. And if that’s the case, then they’re probably not people I want in my network anyway.
But I doubt that would happen. The people I’ve met so far are fantastic. Both men and women, both financial-aid-dependent and no-financial-aid-at-all have shared their opinions on the articles and everyone seems to agree that such behavior is ridiculous and shameful. I’d be very surprised if my GSB experiences mirror those the New York Times wrote about.