Online education startups witness increasing women participation in core tech courses

Praveena Murthy, 32, spends at least an hour each day on websites like Coursera — which offers e-courses. Employed with one of the largest IT companies in India, Murthy has been in the testing vertical for several years. With three digital-related courses already under her belt, she is on the lookout for a data-science programme.
 
“I know this role will be redundant soon. The clamour for up-skilling continues and while my employer is proactive with in-house L&D (learning and development) efforts, it is really up to me to shape my career,” said Murthy.
 
Women in tech are traditionally known to have a leaning towards project management and testing-related roles. A survey shows that for every 100 testing jobs, there were 34 women compared with 66 men. When it comes to hardcore programming roles, the ratio changes to 25:75 respectively. A positive turn is beginning to shape up with more women signing up for core tech courses.
 
Ronnie Screwvala’s edutech startup UpGrad has seen a threefold increase in the number of female learners for their data-science programme in the last one year. Female participation on an overall basis has doubled.
 
“Data and data-related subjects are more amenable to working women. It not only requires coding/technical skills, but also a strong business understanding. They don’t have to just sit and write the code, but also think through the deep implication of data on the overall business,” said Mayank Kumar, co-founder, and CEO, UpGrad.
 
Most companies have a diversity and inclusion mandate and run a slew of initiatives to improve the representation of women. When it comes to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the participation of women continues to be lower.
 
The survey by Belong, an outbound hiring firm, shows that for every female engineer, there are three male candidates. After working for nearly eight years, 45% of women move out of core tech roles.
 
With the onslaught of digital automation, several IT jobs, including testing, are expected to decline over the next few years. As the IT industry looks to stay ahead of the game, women IT professionals are making sure they are not left behind.
 
E-learning company Simplilearn has seen a 200% year-on-year growth in women learners signing up for digital tech courses. Kashyap Dalal, co-founder & chief business officer at Simplilearn, says, “With the market shifting towards more opportunities for digital skills, we see women opting for areas like digital marketing, big data, and analytics, data science and agile science. This is in stark contrast compared with two years ago when most of our women learners preferred to look at project-management programmes. Another interesting trend is that about one-third of our women learners are on a career break and look at up-skilling as a great way to enter back into their jobs with the right role.”
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