Pursuing an MBA, like other high-level degrees, can be hard on women of color because often there are very few people who look like them to connect with. Besides the lucrative salary that these programs boast upon graduation, networking is an essential aspect of being an MBA-degree holder to develop partnerships and make professional connections. One woman, who recognized the challenges of being black in the world of business, saw the value in building connections with other women of color and decided to expand the concept to prevent other women from getting lost in the wild world of business.

Daria Burke quit her job at Estee Lauder as director of make-up marketing to launch Black MBA Women, a membership organization that connects Black women MBAs from the top 25 business schools in America. Among her goals for the organization is making leading black women in business more recognizable.

“I felt compelled to create an organization that catered specifically to black women from top-tier business schools, and to put a spotlight on the incredible women who hold President and C-level positions who often go unrecognized,” Burke told Black Enterprise.  “For example, did you know that the CFO of Victoria’s Secret is a black woman?! And so are the CFO of Estee Lauder, the COO of Club Monaco and the CAO of Conde Nast…I could keep going!”

Burke, who graduated from New York University’s Stern School of business, says it took her four months to build up the courage and capital to start the organization. New York Life is among the founding partners for Black MBA Women.

The program also seeks to inspire women of younger generations to learn more about business school and give them a helping hand in building connections early on. Burke says that she hopes to motivate others through stories of success that have been found by leading black female executives.

“In Spring 2013, I’m launching a web series called ‘Conversations in the C-Suite’ where I will interview President and C-level women about empowerment, leadership, leveraging being ‘different’ and in general, about their career journey,” Burke said. “It is so important to tell the range of our stories, and for these amazing women— many of whom go unnoticed—to be recognized for their success and the barriers they continue to break for us to have a seat at the table.”

Although Burke is based in New York, Black MBA Women is open nationally to African-American females who are prospective MBAs or graduates from the top 25 business schools. Membership packages are reduced for students.

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  1. I’m currently in a dual masters program. I’m working on a MBA and MHSM (Healthcare Administration)…I was very interested in joining this organization but I’m not attending a top 25 school…This sounds like a great avenue to network!

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    • Truth

      According to her your not qualified. I can only imagine that she would tell you, “next time step your game up when it comes to your education.” (Sarcasm)…. Looks like her organization is missing out on qualified African American woman such as yourself.

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  2. “Pursuing an MBA, like other high-level degrees, can be hard on women of color because often there are very few people who look like them to connect with”

    really? how so? all you have to do is get on madame noire and clutch to connect. apparently everybody has a high level degree or mba…. that or somebody is lying.lol

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  3. Just to clarify, this org is actually intended for women who are either currently enrolled in, or have already earned their degrees, from a “top” b-school. Its focus is actually NOT getting black women into these schools nor providing funding for them (a la the Consortium), but rather once they have already reached these achievements, to provide a suportive network (which does not exist) to make sure that these investments (financially, emotionally, physically, etc.) that have been made are maximized.

    As for the “elitism” argument, that’s fair to think that, but it isn’t so cut and dry. Just because you go to a “top” school does not automatically mean that you will be afforded opportunities and doors will be opened to you, especially if you are a) Black , b) a woman, or c) Both – a Black woman. Most top business positions in the real world are still dominated by a) Whites and b) Men, excluding the previously mentioned groups from the real positions of power. This organization seeks to change that.

    Additionally, as a graduate of both an HBCU, as well as a “top” b-school, I know first-hand that the support systems available for any black woman vary significantly between these environments. Having been one of few Black women (if not the only) in white, male-dominated environments easily allows me to see the value in this org. I wish her the best.

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  4. Mademoiselle

    I’m guessing the admission fee is steep considering black MBAs are already a very small portion of total MBAs, black women MBAs being a subset of that population, and black women MBAs at the top 25 business schools being an even smaller subset of that. If she’s profitable at all, it would have to be because they’re paying high annual dues.

    The other thought that crossed my mind is “Top 25″ is not a static list. Does she change her admissions criteria every year to accommodate schools that flow in and out of those 25 spots (I’m thinking of the last 5-10 schools on that list that aren’t as consistent at holding those spots as the top 5-10 schools are). So one year a new member may have eked by because they’re school overtook last year’s #25, but the next year her classmates may miss out because that same school fell back down to #26?

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  5. Nice informative Post. Woman in MBA study is highly being observe.

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