The United Nations recently released a report warning about the decline in progress towards achieving full gender equality, with the current trajectory showing that it should take another 300 years to achieve that hallowed goal.
However, despite this challenging reality, there’s still hope — provided the right things are done.
Governments, businesses, and academic institutions globally can contribute to increasing women’s participation in education and employment to address gender inequality and unlock sustained economic benefits.
For instance, Malaysia’s 2023 budget includes commendable efforts to bring back 130,000 women, including new mothers, to the workforce.
One effective way of breaking down barriers to gender equality is through online learning, a new avenue that offers women who face difficulties getting traditional education the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to pursue careers in high-demand, well-paying fields.
By providing flexibility, affordability, and safety, the route of online education is one that can potentially break down the barriers that have historically put women at a disadvantage.
Another plus is that online learning promotes gender inclusivity in STEM fields and supports women’s access to jobs of the future, with some of the more prominent platforms making it easy for women to get employed in fields such as IT, engineering, and cybersecurity.
According to Coursera’s Senior Advisor Betty Vandenbosch, there are five ways online learning can help in this regard:
- Breaking down barriers: Online learning provides women with the flexibility to upskill themselves and enter high-demand, high-paying careers despite caregiving responsibilities.
- Promoting gender inclusivity in STEM fields: Women can develop in-demand digital skills crucial to realizing the country’s digital economy vision through online learning.
- Supporting women’s access to jobs of the future: Online learning offers entry-level professional certificates to prepare learners for high-growth careers like Data Analyst, UX Designer, Application Developer, and Social Media Marketer, among others.
- Helping women expand horizons: Online education provides freedom to explore various interests, motivating learners to complete courses they finally choose.
- Improving gender equality in leadership positions: Women can build technical skills online that complement professional skills, positioning them for new and expanded roles in the modern workforce.