In which Harvard Business School is revealed to be an episode of Gossip Girl

My biggest takeaway from this in-depth piece on gender equality in Harvard Business School is that it sounds like Gossip Girl is real, it’s just in Cambridge:

But she wanted to meet someone soon, maybe at Harvard, which she and other students feared could be their “last chance among cream-of-the-crop-type people,” as she put it. Like other students, she had quickly discerned that her classmates tended to look at their social lives in market terms, implicitly ranking one another. And like others, she slipped into economic jargon to describe their status.

The men at the top of the heap worked in finance, drove luxury cars and advertised lavish weekend getaways on Instagram, many students observed in interviews. Some belonged to the so-called Section X, an on-again-off-again secret society of ultrawealthy, mostly male, mostly international students known for decadent parties and travel.

Update: From the reaction to the original article, the New York Times is astonished to learn that perhaps class is an issue, too, at HBS:

When Christina Wallace, now the director of the Startup Institute, attended Harvard Business School on a scholarship, she was told by her classmates that she needed to spend more money to fully participate, and that “the difference between a good experience and a great experience is only $20,000.” [emphasis added]

…The result is a school that mixes students of relatively modest means with extremely wealthy ones, including in recent years the children of Leon Black, a private equity investor, and Gerald D. Hines, the founder of one of the world’s largest real estate firms, among many others….

According to Ms. Boyarsky and others, the members are mostly male and mostly international students from South America, the Middle East and Asia. They organize “the real parties, the parties where it’s a really limited list, the extravagant vacations — I mean really extravagant,” she said. (No students interviewed admitted to being members of the group, though some said they had attended its parties.)

“More than once I heard that ‘the only middle-class students here are the Americans,’” another recent graduate said. [Which is clearly not true when read after the preceding paragraph.]

2 thoughts on “In which Harvard Business School is revealed to be an episode of Gossip Girl

  1. This doesn’t seem very surprising. The first seems completely inline with the infamous advice Susan A. Patton gave in the Princetonian (seems like the original letter has been taken down, but here is an article talking about it). Did anybody really expect business school to be about something else? The few people I know that went to get an MBA at top schools knew full well that they are not going there to learn something, but just to network with the business and finance ‘elite’.

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