Laidlaw Foundation funds Oxford MBA Scholarships for women with £1.35m donation

The Laidlaw Foundation will fund scholarships for women at Saïd Business School.

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Mar 09, 2020

The scholarships are intended to encourage extraordinary women with clear leadership potential to enrol onto the MBA programme when they would not have previously considered the qualification due to financial constraints.

Women are more likely than men to face financial limitations that prevent them from accepting offers to graduate business schools, according to analysis from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT exam.

By providing scholarships to diverse and exceptional women, irrespective of their socioeconomic backgrounds, the Foundation aims to achieve equal representation and power in C-Suites and boardrooms around the world.

The total gift will enable Oxford Saïd to build on its current position as Europe’s most gender balanced MBA (currently 44% female) and achieve full gender parity.

The Laidlaw Scholars will join a global network of future women leaders. Using the online expert platform – the Laidlaw Scholars Network – they will be able to connect and collaborate with ambitious peers, and share their expertise with others in the Laidlaw community, in order to help develop the next generation of ethical and diverse leaders. They will also enjoy an annual dinner with Laidlaw Foundation representatives, Oxford Saïd faculty and scholars from previous years, helping build a sense of community.

The Oxford Laidlaw Scholars will be joining nearly 300 Laidlaw Scholars from Columbia Business School whom the Laidlaw Foundation has supported to earn their MBAs; and Scholars at London Business School where the Foundation launched a Women’s Movement in 2019.

Susanna V. Kempe, CEO of the Laidlaw Foundation and Chair of Laidlaw Schools Trust commented:

We are thrilled that Oxford Saïd is joining our Women’s Movement. Our aim is to propel more women into leadership roles by giving extraordinary women, who would not otherwise be able to afford an MBA, access to Oxford Saïd’s exceptional programme and network.

Lord Laidlaw commented:

Unfortunately, many women reach a glass ceiling, particularly in the corporate world. I am deeply committed to helping more of them break the glass ceiling through expanding access to top business education.

Kathy Harvey, Associate Dean, MBA and Executive Degrees at Oxford Saïd commented:

We are delighted that the Laidlaw Foundation is generously providing scholarships for women over the next 3 years, giving them an opportunity to create real change in businesses and industries across the world and inspire others.  We are committed to achieving gender parity in education and this gift will materially help us in our endeavours.

Peter Tufano, Dean of Saïd Business School, commented:

Research shows that a better gender balance in the student cohort leads to better outcomes, and so we are proud to be partnering with the Laidlaw Foundation to increase our scholarship offering for female applicants to the Oxford MBA in 2020.

The announcement coincides with significant changes within the MBA market: according to a recent GMAC survey, 47.1 percent of GMAT exams were taken by women in 2019 – the highest number on record.

As well as strengthening its scholarships for women, the School has also undertaken initiatives to support female leadership, including skills development programmes and career workshops.

Oxford Saïd research such as Claiming the corner office: Female CEO careers and implications for leadership development and Women on boards: The superheroes of tomorrow? has furthered understanding of female leadership styles and busted boardroom myths.

In 2018, the School founded The Oxford Women's Leadership Alliance, a network and programme of events designed to foster inclusivity, partnership and allyship among students.

Go to the profile of Nikol Chen (she/her)

Nikol Chen (she/her)

Marketing & Design, Laidlaw Foundation

Hello! I am fascinated with all things human- & design-related. My university research focused on the effects of design on patient wellbeing in hospitals. I employed ethnographic methods to investigate whether design elements, such as colour, light, and form can have a significant impact on medical recovery. Throughout my degree, I also took modules in ethnographic documentary filmmaking, philosophy of science, and anthropology of architecture among other (less interesting-sounding) things. If you need any guidance on using the site (or if you just want to chat), contact me using the chat app on the Network website, or drop a line at!

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