The Thunder Wives’ Tale

Courtesy: Google Images

There are so many things that we, as students, are unaware of; in particular, about Thunderbird in the days of yore. The Arizona Republic ran an article about Thunderbird in 1972 about how the school was making efforts to recruit and include women in its post-graduate courses. Those were the days when females were in extreme minority in post-graduate courses, averaging 6% of the entire student body, with 10% of the total female student population being international. 1972 was significant, because it marked a 50% increase in female enrollment. Those were the days when those women who joined graduate and post-graduate courses were perceived to do so because they were “husband-hunting”, given the high male-to-female ratio. How far the world has come in recruiting female students and opening opportunities, and more importantly, changing mindsets about gender equality in the professional world. The most recent article about women in the professional world would be the Harvard Business School Case Study on gender equity in the NY Times, that is another example of the conscious efforts that institutions in North America and across the world are taking to remedy this.

This article however, brings to you a unique program that Thunderbird used to run in those days. It was called the Thunderbird Wives Certificate program that wives of full-time students at the then Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management completed. This was granted after the wife completed 18 credit hours of work with a grade C or better.

So why would Thunderbird create such a program? The rationale behind this was that firms usually sent married men abroad and these men would be accompanied by their wives and/or family. To help the family adjust to the new environment, wives were encouraged to participate in this program. The program would help them adjust and adapt easily to their international surroundings, both in their personal and professional lives.

In the days of women liberation movements, this certainly is an interesting case. Let us know if you are aware of any similar programs in other schools, and what you think of this program that continued at Thunderbird until 1975.

(with inputs from Daryl James and the Arizona Republic)

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