From Harvard Magazine:
In 1963, eight women crossed the Charles River to crack a barrier that had stood for more than half a century at Harvard, becoming the first of their gender to enroll in the Business School’s two-year M.B.A. program. Fifty years and 11,000 female graduates later, women make up about 40 percent of today’s incoming M.B.A. classes. An equal number of men and women graduate with honors, and their current dean, Nitin Nohria, considers himself a feminist. Yet when Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg ’91, M.B.A. ’95—the keynote speaker at the recent W50 Summit, a two-day conference celebrating 50 years of women in the M.B.A. program—asked a group of about 800 alumnae gathered in Burden Hall to stand if they had ever vocalized wanting to become CEO of their own companies, almost no one did. “I’m here today to do one thing: to give every woman in this audience not just the permission, but the encouragement to stand up next time that question is asked,” said Sandberg, author of the New York Times best-selling book Lean In. “Not just to be CEO of the company you are in, but to do anything you might not think you can do…anything you might be afraid to do. I want to do that for the men in this room today as well, but I want to do it especially for the women, because the blunt truth is, men still rule the world.”
Throughout the two-day conference, alumnae gathered in small groups to discuss topics like “Negotiate What You Need to Succeed: A Workshop for Women,” “Getting onto Boards Bootcamp,” and “Using Business Acumen to Effect Social Change.” They heard from such business-world leaders as former Time Inc. chief Ann Moore, M.B.A. ’78, and Gail McGovern, the president and CEO of the American Red Cross, as well as from prominent faculty members, including Arbuckle professor of business administration Rosabeth Moss Kanter. A Women’s Place, a new film on the history of women at HBS, was screened on Thursday evening.