“Education is one of the most important means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process.”
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are acknowledging our female students around the world. Whether they know it or not, they are actively participating in the ongoing movement for gender parity.
Coursera’s commitment to gender parity is woven into its DNA, with a leadership team that includes a female co-founder, a female president, and many other women in positions of substantial influence. But female leadership within Coursera isn’t enough; we recognize there are still barriers toward ensuring that every woman–around the world–has access to Coursera’s courses.
Women around the world
We conducted a demographic survey of over 250,000 Coursera students (thank you to all who participated!) and estimated the fraction of Coursera’s students in each country who are female:
Figure 1. Fraction of female students by country. This chart shows the estimated proportion of female students from each country in the Coursera user base. The dotted vertical line indicates the estimated proportion of female students overall.
A few noteworthy numbers:
- Romania leads the pack in gender parity with a nearly exact 50/50 split between men and women.
- On the opposite end of the spectrum, only 26% of students from India are female.
- In the United States, women account for roughly 44% of the total population.
- Overall, female students comprise 40% of the Coursera user base.
You can also view a full interactive map of all countries.
The way forward
We have work to do to achieve gender parity in online education, but there is a bright side: the proportion of female students in Coursera classes has been increasing significantly over time.
Figure 2. The proportion of Coursera users who are female (blue line) and the proportion of enrollments from females (green line) have been increasing over time.
We hope to see this trend continue. And even though the gender parity on the Coursera platform is not yet perfect, the access to education Coursera provides is already having a tangible impact on the lives of women – impact that has a clear downstream effect on their families and their communities. From heroes like Balesh Jindal, a physician in New Delhi whose Coursera experience drove her to help prevent sexual violence towards girls in her community, to Sharon Watkins, whose efforts to build local learning communities helped inspire Coursera’s Learning Hubs program, female Courserians themselves are living proof of how online education empowers women.
Let’s all celebrate!
We are proud to stand up for gender equality around the world and are determined to continue to find ways to increase access to education for women everywhere. So today, on International Women’s Day, we thank all of our students, male and female, for being part of our global classroom. Let’s all advance education and give women everywhere the power to learn anything they choose.
Read the full version of this post with technical details and additional analysis!