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stem: Indian women queue up for STEM courses at edtechs

Even as companies look to meet diversity targets and hire more women, edtech platforms are seeing record-high numbers of women learners enrolling for STEM courses.

Women are making a beeline for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-related online courses, driven by the need to upskill themselves in emerging technology for potentially high-paying and fulfilling careers. With most companies still operating in hybrid mode, women also have greater flexibility to balance work and personal responsibilities, making it easier for them to take time for online courses and invest in upskilling, say experts.

Edtech platforms like Simplilearn, upGrad, Coursera, Imarticus Learning and Great Learning have record-high numbers of women enrolling for STEM courses, reflecting a growing awareness about the benefits of STEM education in recent years. The most popular courses among these edtech firms include programmes on data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning, software engineering, cloud computing, agile software development, Python, and full stack development.

“There is a very strong demand for women professionals who are equipped with tech and data proficiencies coming into the job market. We have seen a 45% increment in women enrolments for STEM courses in the last two years with data science being the most popular course,” said Mayank Kumar, co-founder, upGrad.

At Coursera, women’s enrolments in entry-level STEM professional certificates have gone up from 31% in 2021 to 35% in 2022.

“Gender dynamics are evolving, with increasing numbers of women pursuing STEM courses online as a stepping stone to high-demand digital careers. India’s push for inclusive digital access and emphasis on online education offer opportunities to scale learning interventions and prepare more women for the careers of tomorrow,” said Betty Vandenbosch, senior advisor, Coursera.

Great Learning has seen the share of women learners growing from 20% pre-pandemic to 30% currently, said Arjun Nair, co-founder.In a recent survey by Great Learning, titled Upskilling Trends Report 2023, it was found that the number of women planning to upskill in STEM is slightly higher than males. While 61% women plan to upskill in courses such as data science, cybersecurity, cloud computing, AI/ML, etc. only 59% men this number planned to upskill.
At Imarticus Learning, the number of women learners enrolling for STEM courses is currently around 25-30%. There is an almost 5% increase y-o-y, said Sonya Hooja, co-founder of the professional education firm.

“The shift in societal attitudes towards gender roles and the value of diversity in the workplace is leading more women to consider STEM courses as a viable option,” Hooja said.

At Simplilearn, women enrolments stand at 26% currently, up from 20% in 2019.

“We anticipate a steady increase over the next five years due to women learners wanting to accelerate their careers and explore growth avenues. Some of the popular courses include IT architecture and cloud computing,” said Kashyap Dalal, co-founder of the edtech company.

There is immense potential for women to grow their careers in STEM roles, thanks to emerging opportunities with Industry 4.0 and 5.0 advancements, said Raman Kumar Singh, CHRO, ABB India, subcontinent.

“We have seen an upward trend with women climbing the ladder in STEM roles – from managing smart factory operations, taking care of global operations for one of our product lines along with managing a team, to designing analytical solutions using advanced tools,” said Singh.

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