Can Canada learn from Australia's free MBA programs for women?

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Recently reported by the Globe and Mail, it would appear that some business schools in Australia are offering no-cost or low-cost MBAs to various women who are eligible. This is the country’s attempt to get more women involved in business programs and, eventually, executive level positions.

Due to Australia’s motives, the question of whether or not Canadian business schools should follow suit has been asked. One person in particular, Christina Paylan, an MBA student at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business in Montreal and former president of the school’s Women in Business Club has said, “I think so,” regarding the matter.

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“It would be more appealing and get more women interested in doing their MBA because the return on the investment is often not the same for women,” she further explained.

But should Canada really travel down this rabbit hole? This new idea doesn’t quite seem fair to the men who have paid for their MBAs or even the females who have already paid and earned their degrees. Furthermore, if business is still a “man’s world,” then what are these men going to think when they discover women are getting their education for free.

In short, will this new model really help to promote equality in the business world?

It’s common knowledge—for the most part—that female executives are usually paid a lower salary than male ones, despite having the same degree and education.

Specifically, Bloomberg Businessweek surveyed around 10,000 business students and discovered that women graduating business school this year would receive an average of $14,548 less than men. This fact clearly impacts whether or not women choose to enter an MBA program—why should they acquire more debt for less money than they’re worth?

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While this is 100 per cent unfair—salary should be based on education, skill and merit instead of gender—how can giving away education to one sex over the other help reduce stereotypes or gender issues?

Sure, women may be more inclined to enter MBA programs if these programs are available for free or at a lower cost, but when they enter the work force they will still most likely be earning less than men with the same level of education and skill set—meaning the real problem isn’t getting solved.

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Furthermore, these women are probably only setting themselves up to receive further setbacks for taking a free education—an option not available to men.

Yes, there’s a problem with the system; men shouldn’t make more money than women just for being men. However, giving women more scholarship opportunities and free education will only cause a greater divide amongst men and women.

There has to be a solution here, but Australia’s doesn’t seem quite right. Therefore, Canada should think twice before taking the same approach and giving away education to just women.  

For the latest news regarding business in Australia, make sure you visit our sister brand Business Review Australia.

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[Source: The Globe and Mail]

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