Learning & Development

Understanding the Gender Gap in L&D

Now more than ever before, organizations are taking a long hard look at their learning and development (L&D) programs to improve them and to remain competitive in the modern-day workplace.


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They are also working hard to upskill their existing employees, too, to respond to a growing skills gap across a multitude of different industries. But as skills gaps are being addressed, L&D researchers and professionals are also uncovering a prominent gender gap in skills-based training and L&D initiatives.
Below is more information about the issues and causes behind the current gender gap present in L&D initiatives and programs across organizations and industries.

Access and Awareness

One survey found that 64% of men said they have access to online learning platforms at their workplace, while just 48% of women said that they did. And other research reveals that 16% of women report having no access to L&D at all, while only 4% of men say the same. Furthermore, 75% of men believe that the organization they work for shares subject matter expertise across teams effectively, while only 55% of women feel this way.
Essentially, whether men or women know they have access to such training or L&D at their workplace boils down to awareness. Men are more often kept aware of certain training and development programs than women are inside the workplace.
What’s more, men are more likely to have access to more technical skills (hard skills) training than women. Sixty-eight percent of men claim to have access to technical skills training, while only 47% of women say that they have access to the same type of training.

Confidence and Leadership

Research also shows that women are less likely to sign up for more challenging training or development programs than men because they are more reluctant to “sell” their accomplishments, their work and experience, and their skills.
Where women feel that they must be 100% to 120% ready to tackle more training challenges and development, men believe they are more competent when they only have around 60% or 70% of the necessary skills and experience needed.
In addition, these researchers have found that women are socially conditioned to not reach for more leadership roles, whereas men are socially rewarded for taking the lead and being loud about it. So, to combat this in the workplace, L&D professionals need to make sure more women are aware of and taking advantage of different leadership training opportunities.
And those who need an incentive to make this happen should keep in mind that companies that have more women leadership have 53% higher return on equity, 42% higher return on sales, and 42% higher return on their invested capital.
Overall, if you want to mitigate the gender gap within your own L&D programs and initiatives, make sure that everyone across your organization is aware of what you’re offering and that everyone has equal opportunities to participate and learn.