ONE of the largest online learning platforms in the world, Coursera Inc. (NYSE: COUR) has released a new study that examines the pandemic’s impact on skills and learning trends among women.

The Women and Skills Report compares prepandemic enrollment and performance data with trends observed on the Coursera platform since the onset of the health crisis through June 2021. It highlights an impressive increase in online learning participation among women-learners globally, and in the Philippines.

With a 774-percent year-over-year hike in enrollments from women-learners, the Philippines ranks No. 1 out of 190 countries for highest increase. More women are also joining certificate-training programs aimed at entry-level digital jobs.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021 indicates that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women in the archipelago, ranking lower in 2020. Despite the country almost bridging the education attainment gap at 99.9 percent, there is still gender disparity in labor-force participation, with only 49 percent of women in the job market today.

 “We believe…the new norm of remote work and online learning is setting a solid foundation of a more inclusive recovery. While women participation in the labor force is low in the Philippines, in the long term, we may see this rise as the access to equal job-relevant online education leads to equal employment opportunity,” said Coursera India and Asia-Pacific Managing Director Raghav Gupta. “The encouraging trends from the report are a testament to the resilience of Philippine women-learners and their determination to return to work and advance their careers.”

Women, skills report

MAJORITY (56 percent) of new learners in the Philippines today are women, bringing the total number of registered women in the country to 650,000.

Top skills among Filipinas reveal high investments in business. Top 10 abilities from the past year include communication (1.2 million enrollments among Filipinas), leadership and management (880,000), entrepreneurship (740,000), marketing (630,000) and business analysis (550,000). Many of the most popular courses are also from the business domain, including Excel Skills for Business (Macquarie University) and Write Professional Emails in English (Georgia Institute of Technology).

Trends among women-learners in the Philippines align with global learner trends. Though business skills are the most popular, more women are enrolling in courses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. For these, the gender gap narrowed from 38 percent enrollments from women in 2019 to 43 percent in 2021. Filipino women are investing in critical STEM skills like probability and statistics (680,000 enrollments), data analysis (490,000), and computer programming (480,000), with Programming from Everybody by University of Michigan among the most enrolled.

Women in the Philippines are enrolling in more courses than before the pandemic, particularly in certificate-training programs aimed at entry-level digital jobs. Women’s enrollments in similar Professional Certificates increased from 33 percent in 2019 to 47 percent in 2021. Certificates from industry leaders such as Google, IBM and Facebook are designed to prepare learners without a college degree or technology experience for a wide range of high-demand digital jobs.

Businesses, governments and campuses will continue to play a key role in reducing gender gaps in the digital economy. This year, in programs where Coursera is used by various businesses, governments and campuses in the Philippines, there were higher shares of registered women learners (44 percent, 57 percent and 54 percent, respectively), compared to the global setting (36 percent, 51 percent and 42 percent, respectively). Better gender share is likely to contribute to more diverse talent pipelines for employers.

 “I earned my computer science degree with only a handful of women alongside me, and while a great deal has changed since then, we still have important work to do to increase women’s representation in technology and leadership,” said Coursera Chief Content Officer Betty Vandenbosch. “Access to flexible, job-relevant education can help women learn new skills they need to enter high-demand roles and achieve better gender balance in the work force.”

 With more than 87 million learners and 5,000 courses on the platform, Coursera has one of the largest data sets for identifying and measuring skill trends. The Women and Skills Report includes information from 40 million new learners who registered during the pandemic between January 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

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