Monday, 9 March, 2020

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

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.

For enquiries, please contact:

Tom Pilsworth

Press Officer

Oxford Saïd Business School

Tel: +44 1865 288879


Jeevan Vasagar

Head of Media Relations

Oxford Saïd Business School

Mob: +44 7712 698839


About the Laidlaw Foundation:

The Laidlaw Foundation invests in the education of the underprivileged and underrepresented in order to break the cycle of poverty, reduce inequality and develop a new generation of leaders.


We believe that education is the single most powerful tool to break the cycle of poverty and reduce inequality in the world. We invest in the education of the underprivileged and the underrepresented in order to create systemic change.

Our goal is to develop a new generation of engaged global citizens and leaders; who embrace research, make data-driven decisions and believe that there is a moral imperative to act with integrity.


The Foundation currently supports 4 programmes:

1.         Laidlaw Schools Trust – a growing multi-academy trust founded to transform the lives of children and communities in the North of England, through inspirational education. 

2.         Laidlaw Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholars – an international programme supporting undergraduates in 12 top universities around the world, designed to develop a new generation of leaders who are skilled researchers, embrace data-based decision making, and believe it is a moral imperative to lead with integrity.

3.         Women’s Business Education Laidlaw Scholars – an initiative to ensure that we have more women on executive and non-executive boards globally. By investing in extraordinary women to gain their MBAs, the Foundation intends to give women the education and networks to achieve equal representation and power. To date, we have helped over 300 women earn their MBA from Columbia Business School and are just beginning a Women’s Movement programme with both London Business School and Oxford’s Saïd, providing scholarships to women who would not otherwise be in a position to reap the benefits of attending this outstanding school.

4.         Buildings at schools and universities designed to help students excel – the Foundation has funded the Laidlaw Music Centre at the University of St. Andrews, built the Laidlaw Library at Leeds University and is exploring a new campus space there which will bring together academics and entrepreneurs. At Sedgefield Community College, the Foundation is building a state-of-the-art new Teaching and Leadership Centre. 

About Saïd Business School

Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford blends the best of new and old. We are a vibrant and innovative business school, yet deeply embedded in an 800 year old world-class university. We create programmes and ideas that have global impact.  We educate people for successful business careers, and as a community seek to tackle world-scale problems. We deliver cutting-edge programmes and ground-breaking research that transform individuals, organisations, business practice, and society. We seek to be a world-class business school community, embedded in a world-class University, tackling world-scale problems.