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Cambridge Judge Business School Executive Education improves gender diversity

2 August 2013

The article at a glance

Four in ten delegates on the Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme are women Among FTSE 100 companies, female representation at board level stands …

Four in ten delegates on the Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme are women

Among FTSE 100 companies, female representation at board level stands at just 16.7 per cent. So when it comes to the top executive education programmes, it would be unremarkable to find the same gender imbalance in the classroom.

In the most recent cohort of the Advanced Leadership Programme (ALP) at Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS), 41 per cent of delegates – nine out of 22 – were women. They came from senior roles across a wide range of different industries, including mining, pharmaceutical research and the third sector.

The ALP is an intensive three-week programme aimed at C-suite, managing directors, general managers and senior executives. Course content is split into three broad themes: making sense of turbulent times, taking the lead through innovation and leadership in action. Throughout the programme, delegates benefit from the input of world-leading academics, both from within CJBS and from other faculties and departments in the University of Cambridge.

Professor Peter Williamson, Academic Programme Director, said:

It attracts men and women who want to step back from the ‘tyranny of the inbox’ and re-evaluate the fundamental forces that are relentlessly transforming our world.

The ALP offers a chance to work out how to respond strategically. It takes a holistic viewpoint, based on experiential learning rather than a set of tools and techniques. And there are definitely many women who value this approach.”

According to Professor Williamson, the low quotient of women on MD-level leadership programmes is indeed slowly rising. “There is a gradual trend to increasing participation over time,” he says. “We have also made efforts to bring the ALP to the attention of qualified women. But we do not believe in quotas or targets – all the women are admitted on an equal basis to the men.”

The Cambridge Judge programme boasts a number of unique features. Many similar courses require a time commitment of up to a month, but the ALP concentrates the learning into a rigorous three-week schedule. Group size is capped at 25 to maximise the opportunities for debate and exchange of knowledge, and teaching methods are varied throughout the timetable to ensure the course remains stimulating.

Another notable advantage of the Cambridge ALP is its global reach. Every cohort so far has had between 12 and 18 different nationalities represented. What’s more, each of the nine women on the most recent course was from a different country.

Commented Professor Williamson:

The ALP does in general attract a very international audience. This is not gender-specific, but there are certainly many women in business who see this diversity as a potential advantage in coming up with creative solutions, rather than as a problem to be overcome.”

This article was published on

2 August 2013.