Villanova Dean Says To Grow Female CEOs, Get Girls Interested In Finance (Hint, Cool Shoes Matter)

By Jane M. Von Bergen

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Joyce Russell, dean of Villanova University’s nationally-ranked business school says that if she could make a change to encourage more women in business she would reach out to five year old girls and figure out how to get them excited about math.

Kudos to the STEM movement (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) for building girls’ interests in science, engineering and technology, says Joyce Russell, dean of Villanova University’s nationally-ranked business school.

But what about the M-for-math part?

The answer matters, Russell told me during our Executive Q&A interview, published in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer — especially if there’s any real push to get more women into the ranks of chief executive. “I have this whole theory on if we’re going to really impact society at the CEO level, we’ve got to get women in finance, because that’s the easiest route to becoming a CEO.”

But, as she points out, the field of finance is “very male-dominated. When you look at business schools, most finance students are men. If I could make change, it would go back to five-year olds. How do we get girls excited about math? If you look at the STEM movement, they’ve done a fabulous job on enticing girls to get into STEM.

They’re doing great, and more power to them, because that helps us because most of the people in STEM will, eventually, go into business. That’s good for us. But, when you think about high school, and elementary, middle school, they teach hardly anything about business. Right?


If you’re good in math and you’re a girl, they’re say, ‘You should be in engineering. You should be in robotics club. You should go into STEM.’ That’s fine, but we need to get in to talk about careers in business as well, because those girls who are good in math, would be great in finance, in accounting, in analytics, in economics, but they don’t get exposed to any of this.

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