Despite their reduced employment, women are expanding their skills.
The exodus of women from the labor market induced by the pandemic does not prevent them from learning and acquiring new skills. As shown in Coursera’s 2021 Women and Skills Report, women’s learning activities in several categories have skyrocketed. For example, their participation in entry-level professional certificate programs as well as science, technology, engineering and math courses increased to 37% each, up from 25% and 31%, respectively, in 2019.
This learning trend is also not limited to one locality or region. Coursera researchers confirm a global surge of women developing their skills by engaging in online learning activities. With 8.6 million, the United States leads the world with the largest cohort of female learners, followed by India (4.8 million) and Mexico (2.4 million).
The Philippines leads with the largest year-over-year increases in e-learning enrollment. Compared to last year’s figures, the country has seen a dramatic 774% increase in the number of women participating in e-learning programs. Lebanon follows with a 729% increase, and Uruguay completes the top three with a 565% increase.
Analyzing enrollment in its learning offerings, Coursera researchers identified health, humanities and social sciences, business, data science and technology as the top five areas that captured the attention of female learners in 2021. Globally, communications, leadership and management, probability and statistics, entrepreneurship and computer programming were the skills female learners focused on the most last year.
However, even though more women are learning skills today than before the pandemic, they are underemployed. In 2021, less than half of working-age women globally, compared to almost 70% of men, were employed. Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera, notes that “While education is not a panacea, the Women and Skills Report indicates that the gender gap in online learning has narrowed during the pandemic, even as the gender gap in employment has widened. Talent development professionals can keep these data points in mind when looking to ensure their organizations have the right skills to meet business demands.