UMN business school enrolling more women

The number of female students enrolled in the Carlson School of Management has increased about 39% over the past decade.

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Ray Shehadeh

The Carlson School of Management on Thursday, June 23.

by Gabby Erenstein

For Dharshini Anugu, the gender disparity among students at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management is at the top of her mind. 

In the male-dominated school, the third-year student said she has sometimes found it difficult  to make her voice heard. For instance, she said a male student once asked her and others for advice and then appeared to only listen to what another male student had to say. 

“I found it so hard to initially break that barrier,” Anugu said. “They [men] look at you and they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re a girl, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’” 

As a finance student, she said her major classes generally only have two or three female students, including her. According to the University’s Official Enrollment Statistics Report, the school’s student body is currently about 42% female, .01% non-binary and 58% male. 

School administrators are aware of the gap. Assistant Director of Undergraduate Enrollment Eric Ly said the school is in the process of a years-long effort to attract, and retain, more female students. 

During the 2011-12 school year, 1,789 female undergraduate students were enrolled in the school, according to the report. There were about 2,500 women during the 2021-22 school year, an increase of about 39% over a decade. 

Ly has worked in the enrollment field at the University since 2013, originally assisting transfer students before the school promoted him to include freshman in his responsibilities, he said.  

The growing number of women taking classes at the school is, in part, a result of initiatives by school leaders to promote what Carlson has to offer, Ly said. One such program is the annual Women in Business luncheon. 

To plan that event, organizers partner with the student-run undergraduate Women in Business club (WIB), which is a group of undergraduate business students who encourage women involvement in the business world. The group invites all students, faculty and staff from the school to attend the luncheon with the hope of peaking female students' interest in Carlson, Ly said.

About 350 students were members of WIB during the 2021-22 school year, WIB President Lauren Boike said. WIB meets biweekly and plans multiple social events, in addition to the luncheon, throughout the year, Boike said. 

Boike was a senior marketing major at the school during the 2021-22 school year. She said she joined WIB as a sophomore with the goal of being more involved in extracurricular activities on campus.

“Through showing my dedication to the club, and putting in some extra efforts, [I became president]. I just care for the club,” Boike said. 

One of the club’s biggest events is the Annual Charity Gala, Boike said. Huntington Bank Stadium hosts the gala, which includes a silent auction that raises money for charity. 

The club chose Dress for Success — an organization that helps women build their resumes, find jobs and get workplace-appropriate outfits — as the recipient of the fundraiser for the past three years, Boike said.  “Their values align with ours so much,” Boike said.

At the 2022 gala, the club raised about $15,000 for Dress for Success, Boike said.  

Anugu is not a WIB member, but she said she keeps busy with other clubs, such as the  Investment Banking Club (IBC). In that group, Anugu said she is the only woman, and she hopes to serve as a mentor for any future female students who have an interest in investment banking and want to join.

“The biggest advice I would give [to them] is to ask for what you want, and go forth with confidence,” Anugu said.