Experts Column

How Women Are Changing The Face Of Edtech Startups

The author is the CEO of www.Talerang.com, an Edtech founder, alumni Harvard Business School and has been in the education sector for over 10 years.

In 2020, only 2.3% of funding went to women-led start-ups. A lot has been written about women getting the short end of the stick in the work world. From funding, to compensation, to career growth, there has been a gap at several levels. Global economic growth could see a boost of $20 trillion as per a report by Bloomberg equality if women's participation in the labour force and their education equalled that of men.

Women And Edtech - The What:  While There Are Gaps Across Sectors, Nations And Industries, The Edtech Sector Is One Where Women Are Playing A Significant Role, Drawing Light To The Possibilities

There is no shortage of women leading EdTech start-ups. Lynda.com (now known as Linked In Learning), was co-founded by Lynda Susan Weinman, and acquired by LinkedIn for $1.5bn in 2015. Byjus, co-founded by DivyaGokulnath, is currently the world's most valuable EdTech company, valued at over $18bn as per a recent Techcrunch report. Its most recent $300mn fund-raise also pegged it as India's most valued start-up (surpassing PayTM for the top position). Coursera - one of the pioneers in EdTech was co-founded by Daphne Moller and funded by GSV, one of the leading VC funds in the EdTech space, also helmed by a female CEO Deborah Quazzo.

What's common between these examples is not just that there's a female founder, but the innovation and impact of these enterprises. In fact, a recent report by Holon IQ found that out of 800 of the world's top Edtech startups, 170 were founded or co-founded by women, which is over 20%.

Women And Edtech - The Why: There Are 4 Key Reasons Why Women Are A Good Fit For The Edtech Industry

Firstly, women have been active and played a role in the education system for generations. Their involvement as teachers, mentors and school principals has only accelerated with time. According to a report by the Center for Global Development, over 60% of global teachers are women. In fact, 2021 was the year in India when primary school female teachers surpassed male teachers as a whole, being one of the few industries where women took the lead overall. Their understanding of the education sector is not new and it is but natural that as this sector transitions online, they continue to play a pivotal role.

Secondly, women's inclination for nurturing the youth, empathy, desire to mentor and higher EQ has been reported anecdotally and in several studies. With the National Education Policy focusing on holistic education, it is but natural to involve even more women, many of whom have a flair for soft skills such as team-work, collaboration, creativity and communication. In a research study done by Talerang, Gen Z women outperform men consistently on several metrics including flexibility (85% for women vs. 69% for men),  influencing skills (70% for women vs. 56% for men) and time management (89% for women vs. 63% for men) making them excellent hires in the EdTech space which is dynamic and fast-paced.

Third, the flexibility that EdTech offers using technology and digital tools has made it even more open to those keen on a work from home or flexible role be it men or women. Digital disruption has accelerated at an unprecedented pace since the outbreak of the pandemic. Businesses quickly adapted to technological interventions. The education sector similarly reoriented itself to negotiate with the demands of the new normal. A survey by Talerang of Gen Z women showed that over 20% of women are keen on a career break, as opposed to just 3% of men, something that the education sector allows. Flexibility in timings and part-time options make this a great option for women who are new mothers as well. With online, live learning, the quality of delivery doesn't get affected as the trainer or teacher is still present though they can be at home if required, wearing multiple hats. Women have been reported to be expert multi-taskers, and technology makes it even easier for them.

Lastly, with the new normal, the culture in the work world as a whole has evolved with inclusivity and empathy for all being in focus. With start-ups burgeoning and paradigms shifting, the desire to hire people who are adaptable and eager is of essence. Since EdTech has evolved as one of the fastest growing sectors and is hiring aggressively, it makes sense for the sector to tap into women as they are largely underrepresented in the work-force overall. It makes business sense for EdTech leaders to hire women as they have a dedicated, committed population that is happy to contribute and is eagerly open to work!

In Conclusion, Women Are Already An Active Part Of The Edtech Space And Can Be Engaged Even Further.

Their active participation could be monumental, especially for India. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, women account for only 24% of the Indian labor force and generate only 17% of the Indian GDP. If India could increase women's participation in the labor force by 68mn by 2025 (as a 10 year horizon), the GDP would grow by 16%. EdTech could play a significant role in this. As this sector paves the way, others can take inspiration and follow a similar trajectory, changing the landscape of start-up hiring over time!

At Talerang, we prepare Gen Z for careers and place them at 400+ Indian corporates for internships and jobs. Our team is 50% female and the entire leadership team is women.