Experiences in Learning and Development Programs Differ Between Men and Women

WRITER: DAN MARZULLO | SOURCE: www.zenefits.com

Even in today’s modern workplace, there are gender-based training gaps in learning and development programs. In fact, new research shows that “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.”

Regarding data, 56 percent of men say their company offers learning and development programs, compared to 42 percent of women. These statistics may suggest a link to why women lead only 5 percentof Fortune 500 companies.

Where does this stem from and what are the implications?

CIO suggests the gap between learning and development programs might stem from generational differences. The research shows this gender gap is a result of the way managers interact with and lead men versus women. According to those same findings, “men are more satisfied with their employer’s learning and development programs than women.”

Which industries are these gaps more or less severe?

These gaps are more noticeable in technical industries than others. However, career fields that require creativity, logic, and problem-solving skills also report a definite gender gap between learning and development programs.

Overall, when it comes to access to skills training, men and women across most major industries saw similar results. On average, anywhere from 53-68 percent of men said sufficient access to training whereas only 40-47 percent of women felt the same across major industries.

What steps can leadership take to close the gap?

Although gaps often exist, it’s not usually intentional. Men and women work and interact differently, which affects how an individual views opportunities for training and skill development.

Leaders can close the gender gap within learning and development programs by becoming more aware of the different personality styles that make up their team. Each will have their management preferences. Get to know your team members. Find out what motivates them and how they learn best. Incorporate their feedback into your leadership methodology. CIO recommends managers speak to their staff one-on-one to find out how learning and development programs would be most beneficial to them.

A personal approach to leadership will help break down socialization barriers and encourage each team member to take advantage of professional skill development opportunities. Cheryl Ainoa, Chief Operating Officer of D2L, an online learning platform, encourages management to:

“Remember that women are socialized to behave as if going after these professional achievements is somehow selfish and they’re letting others down. I find greater success in framing these as, ‘You are responsible for developing these skills and contributing this particular knowledge to the team,’ instead of making it an individual achievement. And when I did that, I had a much higher participation rate and better follow through.”

It’s our responsibility as CEOs, HR leaders, and managers to make a conscious effort to reduce gender-based learning and development gaps to promote equal opportunity and create an environment of achievement.


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