Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal and The Chronicle for Higher Education carried stories about the Anderson School of Business at the University of California at Los Angeles. Business schools are notoriously gender-unfriendly, but Anderson seems to be rather worse than the other top-tier US institutions. Anderson was harshly criticized in a 2006 report, but has not improved. Though the female dean, who has been there eight years, claims to have taken the criticism seriously, the evidence suggests she is insincere. Though some gains have been made, comparisons are against a very low base. The numbers of women on the faculty are low, their prospects for promotion less favorable, and the pay gap, in at least one instance, is very wide.
You have to wonder how much point there is in continuing to make these reports. It’s pretty clear that the business schools are unharmed by such publicity and have no reason to reform. I suspect this indifference to diversity is due in part to ranking systems that overemphasize the percentage of female MBA students and do not adequately recognize the faculty dimension. The influence of the gender ratio among the faculty is important to the overall environment of the school, in particular affecting the level of harassment.
The poor gender conditions at business schools also affect the degree to which those schools are engaging in social issues around the world, in particular the pressing question of the women’s economy. We can complain all we want about the profit-focus and poor ethics of people coming out of the B-Schools, but I suspect that until they are more diverse–in terms of class, race, religion, and nationality, as well as gender–we will just get more of the same.