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Bentley University Launches National Center for Women and Business
*Hear what prominent business leaders are saying about the Center for Women and Business at Bentley University and their reactions to the results of a nationwide survey of college-educated men and women ages 18-30 that explored their interest in pursuing business careers and their perceptions of how hospitable the business world is to women.*
Bentley University, one of the nation’s leading business schools, announced the launch of the Center for Women and Business to advance shared leadership among women and men in the business world and develop women business leaders.
“We have made significant progress over the past several decades, but now more than ever, we must work even harder to create the same kinds of opportunities in the corporate world for both men and women,” said Gloria C. Larson, president of Bentley University. “Through the Center, Bentley will engage with the business community to address the barriers preventing many women from succeeding in business.”
Simultaneously, the Center announced the appointment of Betsy Myers as its founding director. Betsy Myers was a senior adviser and COO to Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign and previously served as executive director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and as a senior adviser to President Clinton.
Recognized internationally as an expert on leadership in the public and corporate sphere, Myers is poised to drive the Center’s efforts. “We know that diversity in the workforce is not just a nice thing to do, it’s good for business. Corporate leaders are clamoring for strategies to ensure diversity from the entry level to the C-suite.”
In 2010, Bentley University received two major gifts to fund the creation and ongoing work of the Center from Bentley parents Jack and Pam Cumming and Bentley Alumni Steven '73 and Christine Manfredi '73.
In conjunction with today’s launch, Bentley University’s largest corporate partner, PwC, is announcing an additional $1 million gift to support the Center’s work.
"Sponsors are critical to professionals in their journey up the corporate ladder. Research by Catalyst indicates that women are over-mentored and under-sponsored," said Niloufar Molavi, chief diversity officer, PwC." Advocacy and sponsorship is an important issue we'll look to address in our collaboration with the Center for Women and Business at Bentley."
The Center will encourage both young women and men to enter the business world through innovative undergraduate and graduate business education that promotes learning opportunities for women and men as peers and instills in them the desire to make a difference in the working world. It will support women in their advancement towards leadership positions and work to expand opportunities for women to assume top leadership roles in the business, non-profit and public policy sectors.
The Center will also promote innovative academic research and further global discussions on the economic and social impact of shared leadership among men and women through education, thought leadership and advocacy.
In conjunction with the launch, the Center released the results of a nationwide survey of college-educated men and women ages 18-30 that explored their interest in pursuing business careers and their perceptions of how hospitable the business world is to women. The findings underscore that women believe men have an advantage in pursuing business careers and that there are significant hurdles for women who do so. The full survey can be found here.
Among the survey’s key findings:
- More than half (52%) of the young women with corporate work experience say that little opportunity for advancement in the business world is very discouraging.
- The largest proportion of both men and women (42%) say that the number one reason why women are less likely to reach very senior positions is because “business is dominated by men who tend to promote and give raises to other men.”
- Both young men and young women believe that women still face a glass ceiling, but more women believe this than men (93% of women, compared to 80% of men).
- Most men (59%) say they were interested in pursuing a career in business by high school, compared to just half of women (49%).
“This study clearly shows that young women today have very negative perceptions of business and are even less interested in pursuing business careers than those who entered the workforce a decade ago,” Larson said.
“Given the challenges recruiting and retaining high potential women, this is a trend that Bentley and the Center for Women and Business seek to reverse. It also confirms our belief that support at an early stage and throughout a person’s career is critical.”
THE CENTER FOR WOMEN AND BUSINESS at Bentley University has as its mission the advancement of shared leadership among women and men throughout the business world and, in particular, the development and retention of women leaders at every stage of their lives.
The Center will encourage young women to enter careers in business, seek to expand opportunities for women in business and support them in reaching top leadership positions. The Center will also promote innovative academic research and further global discussions on the economic and social impact of shared leadership among men and women.
The Center for Women and Business is a critical part of Bentley University’s strategic vision and commitment to promoting ethical, socially responsible leadership in the global economy throughout the entire learning continuum – from college student to CEO and beyond.
President Larson, along with guest experts, joined Bloomberg’s Carol Massar and Cory Johnson, to talk about how college and universities are preparing graduates to navigate diverse environments.