MBA News: Ross Dean on Women’s Path to MBA Leadership

The role of dean at a top-ranked business school is a sought-after position, and attaining such a placement can be particularly challenging if one is a minority. Alison Davis-Blake was appointed dean of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in 2011, and among the 60 schools in Bloomberg Businessweek’s MBA rankings, she is one of only ten female deans. In a recent interview with the publication, Davis-Blake discussed her route to the top. “It’s a really long road from the start of this profession to the deanship,” she remarked on the relative scarcity of female deans in her peer group, noting the many ins and outs individuals experience on the path from an undergraduate degree to a PhD and a tenure-track position. “By [the time one is ready for deanship] we are down to so few [women].”

Davis-Blake has grown accustomed to being a minority. “There have been 30 years of being one of the only or very few women in the room, so I just consider that as background,” she told Bloomberg Businessweek. “I focused more on, do I think I can do the work?” Despite the difficulties, Davis-Blake hopes that her position at Ross will set a positive example for women aspiring to lead. “Having more women deans around allows people to say, ‘Yeah, I could do this.’”

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