Ivy College of Business experiences lower number of women enrolled

Dawit Tilahun

The newly named Ivy College of Business has changed its look over the last 6 months. With a $22 million expansion project and a $50 million donation, which prompted the naming of the college, the college has set forth an initiative of rapid growth.

With all of the improvements and growth within the college, it is still facing a big problem: diversity. Specifically the equal representation in gender.

The Ivy College of Business’s female body of students is 1,614, which is 32.7 percent of the college’s total student body. This is the largest enrollment of females the college has ever had, however it is also the smallest student body percentage the college has had as well.

“About 85 percent of the engineering transfer students are male,” said David Spalding, dean of the Ivy College of Business.

The predominantly male population of the college is partially due to the demographic of the College of Engineering transfer student body, explained Spalding. With a little under 85 percent of the Ivy College of Business comprised of males, similar percentages are reflected in the transfer body of students.

“Clearly, we have work to do,” Spalding said.

Aiming to achieve a female enrollment of 40 percent, the college is looking for more ways to enhance the female business experience.

On Oct. 23 the college had its annual Young Women in Business Conference (YWBC). The conference is meant to give female high school students a day in the life experience of being a college of business student.

For Valeria Silva, junior in entrepreneurship and finance, this was how she got introduced to the college.

“Making us feel like we belong and reassuring our confidence that we can do anything we set our minds to,” Silva said.

The college reaches out to high schools around Iowa to encourage more students to pursue admission into the Ivy College of Business. Furthermore, looking into the next nine months, the college plans to push that boundary and expand their reach into neighboring states as well.

“The conference gives them a chance to hear from successful alumni who talk about their business careers and how their business careers were shaped by an undergraduate business experience,” Spalding said.

This year, the YWBC hosted over 150 high school students providing attendees the opportunity to go to different breakout sessions with topics ranging from how to succeed after college to “Finding the Entrepreneur in You!”

The next YWBC is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018.

Not only is the college pushing to encourage more women to enter business but the college has also seen the promotion of female faculty members.

Recently, the college has had the promotion of two female faculty: Jacquelyn Ulmer,  new associate dean of the undergraduate programs, and Judi Eyles, new director of the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship.  

As the only female associate dean, Ulmer hopes to bring a unique perspective to the college’s approach to policies. Aiming to promote diversity within the college by looking at what actually attracts different demographics to business.

“Twenty years ago there was more of a fifty-fifty split in men and women in interest in entrepreneurship,” Eyles said. 

At an Entrepreneurship Club meeting, Eyles pointed out the current demographic of the meeting, conveying the evident fact that entrepreneurial interest, is currently, predominately, made-up of males.

This spring, Eyles plans to host an event aimed at female students to foster more of an interest in the entrepreneurship major.

“One of our focus areas is to support women entrepreneurs,” Eyles said.

With the female percentage of the college at a low, the college is setting its eyes on closing that divide by hosting more events geared toward driving female engagement and interest. With the implementation of new curriculum, expansion of the college and events like the YWBC, the Ivy College of Business plans to increase its college enrollment and equalize the gender representation.