GMAT Internationalized: Twice as many Chinese women take GMAT as Indian

According to the recent numbers released by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) for the testing year from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009:

“approximately 51 percent of the exams administered during the period were taken by citizens of nations other than the United States. This is the first time since the GMAT’s creation in 1954 that non-U.S. test takers have accounted for a majority of exams during a testing year.”

GMAT is officially internationalized with more test takers being non-US citizens as compared to US citizens. GMAT test numbers clearly indicate that global demand for MBA is still growing. While GMAT is primarily used by US B-schools, demand for GMAT among Indians is driven by the growth of B-schools like ISB and IIMA-PGPX, which require GMAT for admissions to their MBA programs. For example, ISB retained its position as the #1 school to which Indian citizens send GMAT reports and IIMA entered at #9 for the testing year 2008. Harvard ranked fifth and Stanford tenth.

According to GMAC report, “Tests taken by citizens of India were up 7 percent in testing year 2009, to 30,633, capping a 128 percent increase during the past five years.” Recession or not, GMAT numbers for India have been growing consistently.

Contrasting numbers for India and China
Like India, number of GMAT test takers increased for China too, however the drivers for growth are different. In TY 2008, top-5 schools to which Chinese send GMAT scores are still US schools, as compared to India where ISB and IIM have emerged as bigger drivers.

At other level, Chinese numbers are supported by the increasing number of women taking GMAT test. For the TY 2009, nearly twice as many Chinese women (14,659) took GMAT as compared to Indian women (7,370). Likewise, number of Chinese men taking GMAT is nearly 40% of the Indian men taking GMAT (8,891/23,263).

Over last five years, proportion of Indian women taking GMAT test has remained pretty much stagnant at around 23-24%. While for Chinese, proportion of women taking GMAT has increased from 56% to 62%, indicating increasing demand for MBA among Chinese women.

Based on these contrasting numbers, we can see that there are drivers which are helping Chinese women to pursue global MBA as compared to Indian women who are not seeing as much value addition from MBA. In India, ISB is one of the very few institutions which has consciously worked towards increasing awareness and access to women in its MBA programs. Nearly one-fourth of student body at the ISB comprises of women (150/579 students) In my earlier article in Economic Times, I also mentioned that B-schools need to partner with industry to create pipeline for professionally trained women managers. Goldman Sachs’ project of 10,000 women managers is one such project.

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