By Sharon Florentine, CIO
9 min read
9 min read
We’ve all heard of ongoing efforts to improve gender-based skills gaps – but that doesn’t mean this issue is going to resolve itself anytime soon. With only 5% of Fortune 500 companies being led by women in 2018, companies are seeking to elevate their female employees through accessible training programs and by focusing greater attention on individual development opportunities.
Just 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies are led by women. While the efforts to improve representation of women in leadership roles begin as early as elementary school and continue at every level of employment, the needle hasn’t moved in any significant way thus far. According to new research from online learning company D2L, that lack of progress could be because of the significant differences in the ways men and women are exposed to training at their companies.
After surveying 1,000 corporate workers across a variety of industries in February 2018, D2L’s research reveals that in general, women are less aware than men that training opportunities exist in their organizations in almost every category of learning, and less information is passed down to them from those at the top.
According to the research, on average, 56 percent of men say their company offers skills training, compared to 42 percent of women. This discrepancy in awareness is particularly true in the banking industry – though the sector has more overall training opportunities. The research found 74 percent of men and 58 percent of women in banking say their company offers skills training. For comparison, the retail, travel, and real estate industries had a more narrow gap; 56 percent of men and 46 percent of women in retail, travel and real estate say their companies offer skills training.
When it comes to sharing information about skills, knowledge and training, there’s a similar gap, according to the research. Men are more likely to believe that the organization they work for shares subject matter expertise across teams effectively (73 percent of men versus 55 percent of women). That gap does disappear when generational differences are taken into account, however. Boomers – those workers age 54 and over – actually had minimal discrepancy between how men (63 percent) and women (56 percent) believe this information is shared. But millennials (those age 18-37) had a wide perception gap between men (83 percent) and women (55 percent).
Men are more satisfied with their employer’s Learning and Development (L&D) programs than women, with 75 percent of men reporting they are somewhat satisfied or better vs. 55 percent of women. That could be because women say they have less access to a workplace L&D program. A full 16 percent of women report having no access, while only 4 percent of men say the same. Access seems to improve for online learning platforms, but a gap still persists: 64 percent of men say they have access to online learning vs. 48 percent of women, according to the research.
Experiences also differ for men and women when it comes to being offered access to certain types of skills training. When it comes to technical skills, 68 percent of men and 47 percent of women say they have access to this type of training, while 23 percent of men and 37 percent of women do not, but they wish they did.
The research also shows there are similar gaps in access to adaptability/flexibility training (53 percent of men vs. 45 percent of women), creativity, logic and problem-solving training (53 percent of men vs. 40 percent of women), and interpersonal/emotional intelligence training (54 percent of men vs. 40 percent of women). The same access gaps occur with analysis, judgment and decision-making training (54 percent of men vs. 43 percent of women), resource management (53 percent of men vs. 40 percent of women), written and oral communication training (56 percent of men vs. 40 percent of women).