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New Online Tool Helps College Women Choose a Major

Apr 13, 2010

In March, the Forte Foundation launched the Forte Career Gal Road Trip, a free, interactive online game that helps college students choose a major. New grads can also use the innovative new game to test drive and explore various career paths.

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Career Gal Road Trip

The Forte Foundation, a consortium of top business schools, major corporations and non-profits, was formed in 2001 to address gender inequities in the business landscape and encourage women to pursue leadership positions within the business field. The Foundation provides a national infrastructure for women who are looking for mentoring, networking and learning opportunities. Financial support is also offered through scholarships and other programs to help women pay for their business education.

Most recently, the Forte Foundation partnered with a prominent design consultancy firm to create a virtual 'game of life' for young college women who are undecided in their career goals. The game, known as the Forte Career Gal Road Trip, allows players to test drive and explore different careers by making virtual life decisions. Each decision that is made in the game leads to a video segment featuring a real-life woman who chose a similar path.

Elissa Ellis Sangster, the Executive Director of the Forte Foundation, said her organization developed the Forte Career Gal Road Trip to leverage the live, in-person content they were producing on college campuses around the country.

'We knew that in the very busy world of college students this would be an effective way to spread the word about business career and business education opportunities to a much wider audience than we could reach by hosting events. The insight and advice was so rich at these events that we wanted to capture it online and share it with women who were unable to attend,' said Sangster.

smiling business woman

Steering Women Toward Business

The Forte Career Gal Road Trip is certainly a timely project. New research indicates that the number of women choosing to pursue careers in business is low compared to the number of women who pursue careers in liberal arts or humanities. MBA programs are admitting only 30% women annually, and women make up less than 16% of the corporate officers in America's 500 largest companies.

In a survey of its members, the Forte Foundation found that more women would be interested in pursuing careers in business if they were aware of their options during college. Twenty-eight percent of the women who did graduate from an MBA program decided they wanted to pursue business while they were still in college; 20% made the decision in high school.

'Many young women choose undergraduate majors in liberal arts, humanities or social sciences and therefore miss out on information and resources available to women studying business. Depending on the undergraduate institution they attend, the career services office resources available, and the quality or depth of their undergraduate advisors, they can get varying levels of support when it comes to the pursuit of a business career. They don't realize the various paths they can take toward business. And they find out too late that a couple of internships on their resume would go a long way to opening doors for a career in business,' said Sangster.

It is estimated that one out of every five students is undecided about a major when enrolling in college, and nearly 60% of decided college freshmen consider changing their major at some point. But Sangster says that choosing a major early on isn't as important as exploring various career options.

'I think choosing a major is one piece of a much more complex process-charting your career. A major gives you a certain knowledge base and experience during your college years, but it doesn't necessarily drive your career path or success,' said Sangster. 'I think it's important for women to begin career exploration as early as possible...so that they can collect information on many different types of careers that might interest them. Then, as they study, get internships, join student clubs, attend lectures or events on career development, etc. they'll be able to narrow down their choices and explore a few career options in more detail. The reality is that career paths today ebb and flow many times before they settle into one clear, direct path. The benefit of doing your research early is that you are prepared for this and expect it.'

forte foundation, virtual campus

Taking the Forte Career Gal Road Trip

The Forte Career Gal Road Trip is a very useful tool for students who desire insight into the ambiguities of selecting a major, choosing a career, making decisions about balancing family and work, etc.

The game may be played for free by anyone with a Forte Foundation account. If you don't have an account yet, you can register here for free. After registering, simply log in and you'll be ready to play.

The game asks you to make a series of choices regarding various career paths. You just need to follow the on-screen instructions. When your road trip is finished, you can also explore the Forte Foundation's interactive Virtual Campus microsite, which offers additional resources that a college woman might need to pursue a business education or career. Some of the most popular resources include resume and interviewing tips (Land Your Dream Job), a question and answer forum (Girl Talk) and a library of video segments on different industries, women in business and getting an MBA (Career Lab Online).

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