Women say age isn’t a barrier in education but appearance might be

Women more than men believe that equality and diversity training should be for all people

New research by leading online learning platform FutureLearn.com reveals what women think about education and career development as well as what changes still need to be made.

Online learning platform FutureLearn.com has released new data that highlights what women think about the future of education and the workplace. Through understanding that there is no age limit to new skills or successful careers, training for all is essential. 

In the FurtureLearn survey, women voiced how educators, universities, and employers can reshape the new future of learning to be inclusive for all.

When it comes to the current education system, women understand what factors can affect an individual. The top three issues they felt had a negative impact on a person’s education were disability (35%), appearance (34%), and socioeconomic background (33%). 

With appearance sitting as the second-highest reason to impact a person’s education, it is perhaps unsurprising to see a third (33%) of multicultural British women would have liked to have been taught by a Black, East Asian, South Asian or ethnic minority woman growing up compared to the 15% who were.   

Diversity training for all 

The research suggests that women also understand the importance of working and learning in an environment that takes equality and diversity seriously. More women (41%) than men (32%) believe that equality and diversity training should be required for all people in leadership positions, teachers, CEOs, managers, business leaders etc. 

Personal development

Women are willing to invest in themselves. According to the research, three in 10 (33%) women agree there is no age barrier when investing time into getting a new qualification. This can be seen in the 1 in 5 (17%) women who have already changed careers since the start of the pandemic. With 72% having used an online course to help them do so, upskilling has already directly impacted women and how they build their careers. 

Themes of self-development as a means of elevating your career can be seen, yet again, in the 39% of women who would consider starting their own business or side hustle alongside their full-time job. For these entrepreneurial women, online short courses (21%) and self-guided learning on platforms such as Youtube or TikTok (17%) came out top. These platforms are the top two methods individuals would use to learn skills needed to be successful in pursuing new careers. 

Interestingly, according to a UK House of Commons briefing paper on Women and the Economy, men are more likely than women to be involved in “total early-stage entrepreneurial activity,” which includes owning or running a business less than three and a half years old. 

However, when asked what industry they would like to move into if they were to change their job due to the pandemic, women respondents in The Future of Learning Report opted for self-employment as the second-highest choice.

Yvonne Chien, Chief Growth Officer at FutureLearn, said many of the barriers to education that women have cited could be lowered by the safe space that social learning platforms like FutureLearn have created to support a global and diverse learner base. “We hope that educators and businesses will lean in to ensure important topics like equity, diversity and inclusion training are prioritised and that it will foster more equitable spaces for learning and working.”

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