Haas Statement on Admissions Lawsuit
According to recent media reports, an unsuccessful MBA applicant has filed a civil rights complaint against the university and several Haas School officials for being denied admission to the Haas School part-time and full-time MBA programs. The Haas School has prepared the following statement, in a question-and-answer format, to address issues arising from the reports on this law suit.
WHY IS THE HAAS SCHOOL BEING SUED BY AN UNSUCCESSFUL APPLICANT?
This is a difficult question to answer with a degree of certainty at this time. As of 12 noon on Sept. 15, the University of California has not been served with a complaint in regards to Ms. Katherine Zimmerman, whose application for the Evening MBA Program was denied this year. As such, representatives of the Haas School of Business at the University of California are not in a position to address specific allegations made by Ms. Zimmerman and her attorneys. At this time, everything we know comes from reports in the media.
However, the Haas School can state emphatically that allegations of discrimination, as reported in the media, are completely untrue.
WHAT IS THE HAAS SCHOOL'S RESPONSE TO THE LAWSUIT?
Until the University lawyers and Haas School representatives see the complaint, it is impossible to comment in detail.
However, the Haas School is certain that this admissions matter does not involve discrimination of any kind. This is simply an issue in which an applicant was not accepted into the very competitive Haas Evening MBA program because other candidates for admission were better qualified over a wide range of criteria.
It is widely known that both of the Haas School's MBA Programs -- the Full-Time and the part-time Evening MBA Programs -- are extremely competitive. For example, more that 3,700 applicants from around the world applied this year for the 240 open spaces in the Full-Time MBA Program. There were 480 applicants for the 118 spots in the Evening MBA Program. Unfortunately, the Haas School must reject a sizeable number of very competitive applicants to its programs each year because of the scarce number of open seats and the intense competition.
MEDIA STORIES HAVE REPORTED THE CLAIM THAT THE HAAS SCHOOL'S MBA PROGRAM ADMISSIONS POLICIES DISCRIMINATE AGAINST WOMEN WITH CHILDREN. IS THE HAAS SCHOOL'S POLICY DISCRIMINATORY?
No. The Haas School, as a matter of University of California policy, is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex and gender. Furthermore, the Haas MBA application process does not even ask any applicant for either the Full-time or Evening MBA Programs about marital or parenthood status, nor it does collect this information on its enrolled students. However, anecdotally it is known that there are admitted and enrolled students who are mothers, both single and married, with children in both programs.
The bottom line is that highly qualified individuals who also happen to be mothers have been and will continue to be admitted to the Haas MBA Programs.
WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA FOR ADMISSION TO THE MBA PROGRAMS AT HAAS?
The admissions process for both the Full-Time and Evening MBA Programs screens applicants for academic aptitude, intellectual performance, professional experience, managerial potential, and maturity. A mix of quantitative and qualitative measures are used in the screening process, such as GMAT test scores, undergraduate grade point average, letters of reference, essays, and the nature of work experience and an individual's progression and achievements in a career. Viable candidates for the Evening MBA Program are also interviewed. Weaknesses in any one measure must be balanced by strengths in another. In reaching a final decision to admit or deny an applicant, all the characteristics of an individual applicant are also weighed in relation to the entire pool of applicants.
HOW MUCH WORK EXPERIENCE IS REQUIRED FOR ADMISSION?
There is no formal requirement for work experience in the Full-Time MBA Program, although all of the students in the program have at least two or more years work experience. The average work experience is 5 years in the Full-Time Program.
The Evening MBA Program requires that its applicants "must be fully employed."
This statement is not specifically defined because of the wide ranging, diverse nature of work in the late 1990s. For example, entrepreneurs, independent contractors, and other individuals with their own businesses frequently do not have traditional 9 to 5 jobs. This may also include part-time work. However, candidates with limited amounts of work experience may be at a competitive disadvantage to applicants with more experience, and would have to balance this shortcoming with strengths in other areas, such as higher test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation, for instance.
In addition, the Evening MBA Program requires that its applicants possess "substantial professional experience demonstrating potential for a career in senior management." The average amount of work experience of members of the entering Evening MBA class in fall 1999 is 7.6 years.
In most cases, individuals who enroll in the Full-Time MBA Program voluntarily leave the work force for most of the 20 months while they study for a degree. The Evening MBA Program, in contrast, was designed primarily to serve individuals who, for various reasons, cannot leave their daytime jobs. Instead, they obtain their MBA degrees in the evening after work over a period of three years. Many Evening MBA students continue to help support their family while they are in the program.
TO FULFILL THE "FULLY EMPLOYED" REQUIREMENT, MUST AN APPLICANT FOR THE EVENING MBA PROGRAM BE WORKING A SPECIFIC NUMBER OF HOURS PER WEEK, AND BE PAID?
No. In practice, the term "fully employed" has over time been interpreted broadly in the Evening MBA admissions process, with no fixed amount of hours or a "paid position" required for reasons noted above.
It should also be noted that in Ms. Zimmerman's signed application to the Haas Evening MBA Program, she indicated that she was fully employed by stating that she worked 40 hours per week.
THE CLAIM WAS MADE IN MEDIA REPORTS THAT HAAS SCHOOL OFFICIALS TOLD MS. ZIMMERMAN THAT 100% OF STAY-AT-HOME MOTHERS ARE TURNED AWAY FROM THE SCHOOL'S EVENING MBA PROGRAM. IS THIS TRUE?
This is a claim made by one person that the Haas School is unable to corroborate. It is difficult to understand why any employee at the Haas School would make this false statement, since it is contrary to the School's policy and practice.
WHAT IS THE HAAS SCHOOL'S RECORD TOWARD WOMEN?
The Haas School of Business has long been considered a "woman friendly" business school based on the number of women enrolled in the MBA programs. About 38% of the Full-Time MBA Program students in the Class of 2000 are women; and about 30% of the Evening MBA Program students entering in 1999 are women. Both percentages are among the highest of any of the top business schools in the world. In addition: