The occasion of Mother’s Day provides a great opportunity to salute those moms who have gone into the important field of education, training, and learning and development – in both public and private sectors. The women who care enough to educate others and pass on needed skills – both hard and soft – in a world that is getting more complicated and technical by the minute.
At risk of being politically incorrect, it seems the “mother instinct” of caring and patience has begotten a gift to teach. Because teaching is more than rote memorization, it also involves relating to students and inspiring and motivating. These are the qualities that set apart outstanding teachers and instructors.
The women who put their energies, skills, and love into educating others and helping them succeed in life, and their jobs, provide more than just an important service to the students, they provide a great value to businesses and the community as well as.
But women who have chosen the dual roles of being professionals in the education field while raising a family deserve special recognition. Being a working mom is not easy from anyone’s perspective – from the single mother in your neighboring cubicle to the likes of Anne-Marie Slaughter, Sheryl Sandberg, and Sallie Krawcheck, who have written about it in books and articles.
While women are well represented in many parts of the education and training sector, they are still underrepresented in management areas. As women increasingly entered the workforce, teaching was one of the few early professional careers open to them. And enter they did. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), during the 2015-16 school year 89% of teachers in US public elementary schools were women. While still a majority, that number drops to 64% among secondary school teachers. The pattern is similar around the world with data from The World Bank showing that in 2016 65% of elementary school teachers were women, while only a slight majority (53%) of the secondary school teachers were women.
However, women still appear reluctant to go for principal positions. Results from the NCES’s 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey show that while 89% of elementary teachers were women, only 54% of public school principals were female. Again, the percentage of women in these roles is greater among the elementary grades (68%) and declines among middle (40%) high school (33%), and combined schools (42%).
Indeed, the private sector is a much more challenging, yet potentially much more rewarding place to be a working mother. It requires more effort to balance work and family life, and women who tread in this pond are more likely to be up for the challenge.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 58.5 percent of training managers are women, compared with just under 40 percent across other functions. This is one of the few areas with a strong showing of female managers in business, but the proportion of women also dwindle out in higher management roles in this field as well. The “2017 Global Gender Gap Report” produced by LinkedIn and the World Economic Forum notes that while women make up 59 percent of all career levels in education organizations, “the Education sector has stagnated at the 40% leadership hiring mark.”
Yet there is hope.
A recent article in Training Industry Magazine entitled, Women Lead the Way in Learning and Development, cites 2016 Gallup research that found that “women outrank men on accepting and empathizing with others and recognizing and developing people’s potential – key skills for training professionals.”
Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, has her own theory, simply stating that “Increasingly, I’ve recognized that we women love to learn.”
Taryn Oesch, author of the article in Training Industry concludes that “Perhaps that love of learning – and of teaching and managing learning – will help women break through the glass ceiling in the training industry.”
The area of Women in Training is very interesting to us at CloudShare, where our corporate culture places a high value on women in leadership positions and backs it up with generous and understanding family leave policies and a proven commitment to work/life balance.
Therefore, we will be exploring this area in more depth in an upcoming “Women in Training” report in which we’ll explore the challenges women in corporate training departments face on a daily basis and see how they manage to keep a work/life balance – if indeed this is possible.
We’ll also examine what holds women back from management positions and insights into the salary gap.
We’d love to hear from you as well. If you have any anecdotes or tips to share with other women in the training industry, please write them in the comments section.