Women in India are learning online at higher rates than before the pandemic, accounting for 44 percent of new students in 2021, compared to 37 percent in 2019. Coursera’s Women and Skills report compares the pre-pandemic enrollment and performance data with observed trends. the platform from the beginning of the epidemic until June 2021.
With 4.8 million registered female students, India ranks second globally with the highest number of female female students registered on Coursera.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021 notes that the pandemic has disproportionately affected women in India, with the country ranked 28th lower than in 2020. Reasons contributing to the Growing gender gap include a drop in the participation rate of women in India. Women in the workforce at 22.3 percent, inadequate representation of women in technology and leadership, and literacy rates from women to men.
However, during this period, women increased their investment in learning new skills on Coursera despite tough job market conditions.
“Our research indicates that gender gaps in online learning have narrowed during the pandemic, even as gender gaps in employment have widened,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera. “The way women are embracing online learning has encouraged us to develop new skills that can help accelerate their return to work and boost economic mobility.”
Women are turning to online education at a higher rate than before the pandemic. India has 4.8 million female students registered on Coursera, which is the second highest among 190 countries globally. In 2020, women peaked at 44 percent of newly registered Indian students, and growth continued through 2021. Overall, 38 percent of all students in India today are female, up from 24 percent percent in 2016. Average age Indian female students on Coursera are 27, four years younger than the world average age of 31. In India, the overall rate of enrollment in courses increased from 26% in 2019 to 36% in 2021.
For STEM courses, the gender gap narrowed from 23 percent of female enrollment in 2019 to 32 percent in 2021. Female enrollment rates in entry-level vocational degrees increased from 22 percent in 2019 to 30 percent by 2021. These certifications, from industry leaders like Google, IBM and Facebook, are designed to prepare students without a college degree or technical experience for a wide variety of high-demand digital jobs.
The best skills among Indian women demonstrate a balanced investment in human and digital skills. Four of the top five are science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills, such as computer programming (2 million Indian women), machine learning (1.9 million), probability and statistics (1.8 million) and computer science theoretical (1.6 million). Last year’s top 10 skills also include critical personal and business development skills, such as communication (1.5 million), leadership and management (1.1 million), and entrepreneurship (one million).
Graduate courses teach job-related skills, including Programming for Everyone (starting with Python) from the University of Michigan, Machine Learning from Stanford University, English for Professional Development from the University of Pennsylvania, and Financial Markets from Yale University.
The mobile phone is an incredibly powerful tool that guarantees flexibility in learning, 62 percent of female students (compared to 48 percent globally) in India access Coursera on mobile devices, one of the highest rates in the world. Other factors contributing to the increased enrollment of women include the addition of practice tests before challenging assessments, the inclusion of the most common mistakes from peer-reviewed assignments, and the distribution of assessments throughout the course.