When Bill Moncrief, senior associate dean at the Neeley School of Business, was pursuing his business degree back in the ‘70s, seeing a woman in the classroom was “rare.”
The number of female enrollments in business schools nationwide has increased over the past two decades, and TCU has experienced this upward trend, Moncrief said.
In fact, in the marketing discipline at the business school, women were actually in the majority, he said.
“I think that would hold true nationally,” Moncrief said. “Marketing is a very creative discipline; maybe that helps draw more females. But that’s the only major in the business school where females outnumber males,” he said.
O. Homer Erekson, John V. Roach Dean of the Neeley School of Business, said the increase in female business students would hold true for any reputable business school in the country.
According to a press release by the Neeley School of Business last year, business ranked as the most popular college major among women at TCU. Erekson said one reason could be attributed to larger numbers of women entering the workforce.
“Over the last two decades, the labor force participation rate among women has increased significantly in all areas,” he said. “As that happens, you see the proportion of women in business continuing to grow — both in business as a profession as well as business as an area of study.”
Dede Williams, director of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Next Generation Leadership Program at the Neeley School, said the figures also reflected the increase in the number of women pursuing a higher education.
The Neeley School of Business is intent on empowering female business students as the gender gap between male and female enrollments becomes more equitable, Erekson said.
The Women’s Business Network set up last spring was one way the Neeley Business School did this, Williams, the organization’s advisor, said.
She said the student organization, open to both male and female undergraduate business majors, provided networking opportunities and educational resources to students on gender education and women’s issues in the workplace.
Moncrief said female enrollments in the business school were either increasing or decreasing based on the area of study. Marketing and supply and value chain management had more women than men, but accounting was almost even.
However, entrepreneurial management, business information systems and finance were male-dominated disciplines, and some of these trends have historic roots, he said.
“Finance is about 70 percent male, not just here but in every business school in the marketplace,” Moncrief said. “I don’t know what it is. Males are drawn to the financial side, the investment side in much, much larger numbers than females. And I don’t think that’s changed in the last 20 years.”
Senior entrepreneurial management major Drew Mills said during his college career he has noticed an increased number of women in his business classes.
Junior business information systems major Jasmine O’Neal agreed.
“Last semester when I was just getting into the major, I noticed that there were a lot more males. But just taking a look around in class this semester, I have noticed that there are more females inside our program,” she said. “That makes me feel more comfortable, knowing that it’s not just a male-dominated field that I am about to enter.”
The comfort level O’Neal experienced was a main motivator for Williams to establish Women’s Business Network.
During her experience with Neeley leadership programs, Williams said that she noticed female students held back in classroom discussions compared to their male counterparts. After speaking with them, the need for a Women’s Business Network organization was apparent, Williams said.
Erekson said he appreciated the difference between both men and women’s approach to business in terms of their communication styles and biological traits.
Referring to a book he read this summer called “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink, Erekson said research suggested that one of the real differences in business success was an increase in “right brain activities” for which women have an aptitude .
“We shouldn’t stereotype that all men think a certain way, and all women think a certain way. But I think there is evidence that men and women approach problems somewhat differently and in invaluable ways,” he said. “The ability to think in that creative way around big-picture ideas and creative ideas has been a strength that women have had. So, I believe that we will see more and more women over time majoring in business and succeeding in business and really being important leaders in business.”
Moncrief said female business students continued to make substantial contributions to the school — a vastly different landscape from his years in college.
“Women are a big part of our business school,” he said. “If you look at award winners, they are going to be over half of the award winners. I think they make major contributions, and I am glad that we are, at least in most disciplines, at least half and half.”