Michigan Ross Dean Joins White House and Colleagues in New Commitment to Women in Business


What does it take to get deans and leaders from some of the top business schools and corporations together in one room?  How about an invitation from the White House and a very important topic – the country’s national economic competitiveness.

As Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama and Chair of the Council on Women and Girls, Valerie Jarrett said at the White House Convening of Business School Deans, “The United States is in a global competition and cannot afford to leave any team members on the sidelines.”

Specifically – women. That was the topic of the day. What can be done to create greater access, awareness, and involvement among women in business and business schools?

Valerie Jarrett with Ross Dean Alison Davis-Blake

Dean Alison Davis-Blake was a featured speaker on the Access to Business School and Retention in Business Careers panel, chaired by Deputy Secretary of the Department of Labor Chris Lu.

The dean shared with the room of 150 corporate and business education leaders some of the most successful initiatives that Michigan Ross has launched to create an inclusive and empowered environment for women. She cited as successful examples the new Och Initiative for Women in Finance, created to encourage and support more young women to seek careers in finance; the school’s Master of Management Program, ideal to give world-class business acumen to students who have non-business undergraduate degrees; and the school’s successful approach to adding more women to the Ross faculty by inviting more candidates to interview.  

Betsey Stevenson, a distinguished member of the Council of Economic Advisors and professor at the U-M Ford School was a driving force behind the White House initiative on working families and a main organizer and speaker at Wednesday’s White House event.

Michigan Ross was proud to be a key part of the event and join with more than 40 other business schools to commit to a set of best practices to help women succeed throughout school and their careers, and to build a business school experience that prepares students for the workforce of tomorrow. 

These best practices focus on four key areas: ensuring access to business schools and business careers, building a business school experience that prepares students for the workforce of tomorrow, ensuring career services that go beyond the needs of traditional students, and exemplifying how organizations should be run.

At Ross, fifty percent of associate deans are female; the Ross faculty possesses the highest proportion of tenured or tenure track women among top ten business schools, according to Bloomberg Businessweek; and 40 percent for student clubs, organizations, and class sections are led by female students. However, there is more progress to make, and Wednesday’s event at the White House was an inspired collective effort to ensure that indeed, no team member remains on the sideline in a competitive global economy.

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