The Portland MBA: Positioning Women to Succeed in Business

Author: Ariella Frishberg
Posted: March 2, 2018

I hadn’t really given much thought to what it specifically meant to be a woman in business until I started the MBA program at PSU. I attended a women’s college, and from there went directly into the non-profit social services sector, so most of the spaces I have worked in during my adult life have been female-dominated and female-centered workplaces. Throughout my life I have had the opportunity to work with and be mentored by incredible leaders, most of whom are women, and women’s empowerment has always been an important motivator for me in my work.

Part of what I have really appreciated about being a student at PSU’s School of Business is that the school has such a clear focus on making the business world more equitable when it comes to gender. Between the number of women in faculty and upper administrative positions, the student club Women Inspiring Leadership, and the fact that my full-time cohort is the second cohort to have a higher percentage of women than men, I believe that PSU is prioritizing gender equity in ways that many business schools still aren’t thinking about yet.

As an ambassador, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Portland Business Journal’s annual Bizwomen Mentoring Monday last month. Mentoring Monday takes place in more than 40 cities across the country, bringing together more than 7,000 professional women. The speaker lineup was fantastic, and the PBJ event was described as “speed dating” mentorship. I was excited to hear from women in all areas of the business world about their experiences and any advice they might have to share with someone just starting out in her business career.

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(From left) Ambassadors Kristin Culpepper (MBA), Rachel Mattenberger (MBA), Lisa Pitt (MSF), myself, and Academic Director Tichelle Sorenson at Bizwomen Mentoring Monday.

While talking to the mentors was beneficial, I actually found networking with the other mentees to be the most valuable part of the experience. The organization of the event was such that many of us ended up standing in line to talk to one of the mentors for seven to 15 minutes at a time. At some events I’ve been to, I might have pulled out my phone and tried to pass that time by answering emails or getting a jump start (or last-minute cram session) on a reading due in class later.

At Mentoring Monday, people were clearly here to network and engage, and the atmosphere was so friendly that it was easy to turn to someone in line behind or in front of you and start up a conversation. I talked to an amazing woman who had recently left a professional dance career to start her own life coaching business, a woman who was looking forward to connecting with a mentor from the large healthcare organization where she’d just been hired, and several others like me who had left non-profit work to pursue other sectors.

I have been privileged to have extensive exposure to women’s leadership and empowerment as a result of my undergraduate education and work experience. Getting to go to events like the Bizwomen Mentoring Monday breakfast and listen to other women talk about their experiences is a reminder that the rest of the world still has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to gender equity in the workplace. I’m excited to be in an MBA program that values women’s leadership and will support me as I develop my own leadership skills.


ariella_frishbergAriella Frishberg is a first-year full-time MBA student with a background in social services. Her passion lies in creating more equitable employment practices, whether that is in academia, healthcare, or the for-profit sector. Ariella looks forward to being part of a movement that focuses not just on hiring a diverse workforce, but making workplaces that welcome, encourage, and honor diversity in perspectives and lived experiences.