Going to B-School For A Husband?

by on September 1st, 2012

Are women going to business school purely to find husbands–the kind of seriously ambitious husbands who earn six-figure incomes and built multi-million dollar portfolios?

That rather insulting notion has gathered some momentum due to a blog post a few days ago (Aug. 28) on The Grindstone, a snarky career website.  Entitled “I Went To Business School To Get My Mrs. Degree,” writer Meredith Lepore claims that “for some women, attending the male-dominated business school (more so than law and medicine) is a great place to find a husband.”

The article appears based on little more than a song in a two-year-old satirical video from Columbia Business School’s follies show. In the video, Columbia MBA students enthusiastically sing:

“I’m in business school to get me my M-R-S

The returns on a marriage are worth the debt

Findin’ a man in the markets’ not happened yet

So I’m gonna’ find my hubby at CBS”

‘A patronizing, poorly written and infuriating piece’

But, of course, the whole thing is a joke—and a funny one at that. Yet, like too many inconsequential things on the Internet, the post quickly went viral, picking up the scorn of a critic at Jezebel who called the Grindstone post “a patronizing, poorly written and infuriating piece on how a good number of these women probably just want to find a husband.”

The story is already the most-viewed article on the Grindstone. The Jezebel rebuttal is also prominently featured as one of the newer stories along with such other gems as “How Much Would You Pay To See Ryan Lochte’s Alleged Penis?” And today, the author of the Grindstone piece, who happens to be the website’s editor, felt obliged to defend her piece in yet another post.

Grindstone’s Lepore correctly points out that in the past decade women taking the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) have risen by 10% and that women now account for 31% of business-school classes, up from about 26% in 2001, according to the Forté Foundation. Several schools have significantly increased the number of women in their incoming MBA classes, including Harvard and Wharton, which hit a record 45% last year.

But are they going for their careers or for their husbands? No more so than men. “What I know to be true is that there is a tremendously insular culture at business school, such that pre-existing relationships are often put under pressure and frequently collapse,” says Lindsey Mead Russell, who earned her MBA from Harvard Business School in 2000. “I was told that there is no way my boyfriend at the time (currently my husband) would still be in the picture by Thanksgiving.”

‘Few women go to Harvard for a husband”

But she certainly didn’t go to Harvard for a husband and met few women who did. “I imagine there are certainly women who view meeting a potential husband at business school as a nice perk,” says Russell, who blogs at A Design So Vast.

“I honestly believe the uptick in numbers has more to do with the slowly-spreading appeal of the degree and sector as well as other efforts the schools have made like lowering the average intake age. It was not my experience that women in my class were on campus purely to find a husband. Absolutely not. It is true, however, that the intensity of the two years lends itself to internal romances, and there are more than a handful of inter-class (and even inter-section) marriages.”

‘Most women want an MBA for one reason – to enhance their careers’

Betsy Massar, who graduated from Harvard Business School in 1982, has a similar point of view. “Most women want an MBA for one reason — to enhance their careers,” maintains Massar, who now helps men and women get into Harvard and other business schools as the founder of Master Admissions. “Still, business school is fun.  You’re ‘on’ 24/7 — working hard and playing hard are expected. If women and men hope to come out of the experience with a life partner, why not? If we cannot laugh at stereotypes of ourselves, as women, and as business students, then what’s the point?”

Massar says she was at Harvard when women represented only about 20% of the class—a different era entirely. “Of course, I loved the ratio, especially since I had come from Vassar, which at the time, was lopsided the other way. And no, I never ended up with an HBS mate. Real life just took over.”

Funny how that happens.


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