It's Never Too Late: Why More Women are Learning New Skills

There's a new gender gap sweeping the United States -- but this time around, the roles are reversed. When it comes to education, women rule the roost.

There are still problems with gender equality, of course. A woman earns 83 cents for every dollar a man makes and, shockingly, only 13 percent of C-level executives and presidents are female. But there's more positive news. Women are more likely to have a college degree than men: 37.5 percent of women aged 25 to 34 have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 29 percent of men in the same age group. Moreover, college and universities expected that the majority of students would be female in fall 2017, and there are more women in training programs than ever before. Why is all this happening?

Why Women Enroll in Education and Training Programs

The current educational climate is almost unrecognizable from a few decades ago. In the 1970s and 1980s, few women achieved doctoral degrees. In 2016, however, women earned the majority of doctorates for the eighth straight year. When it comes to e-learning, women are more likely to involve themselves in their chosen course, and achieve better final grades than men as a result, according to one study.

It seems, then, that there's been a major educational shift. As some women choose to raise children later in life and climb the career ladder, the number of females in education and training programs has soared.

It's all about self-investment. Research from the Pew Research Center shows women value education more than men do: "Women said they felt that the intrinsic benefits of college were high, and they were more likely than men to report that college had improved the quality of their lives," says Rachel Wiseman, writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education. "More than eight out of 10 women with a four-year degree said their education had been 'very useful' in helping them to grow intellectually, and roughly three-fourths of the same demographic group said college had enhanced their emotional development."

What About Women Over 35?

There's no longer any stigma about returning to school at a later age, either. Students, both male and female, over the age of over 35 made up 17 percent of all college and graduate students in 2009. Experts predict this age group will account for 19 percent of all higher education students by 2020. For women in their late 30s, 40s, and beyond, returning to full-time education or training or just up-leveling their skills offers a wide range of benefits.

Women in education and training programs can:

Develop new passions

Promote gender equality

Raise their income levels

Some women over the age of 35 are put off by lengthy college and university programs, especially if they already have work or family commitments. E-learning courses, however, provide ample learning opportunities in a shorter time frame.

"Online educational services are fantastic for learning a new skill the formal way," says Business Women Media. "You don't need to 'attend' classes like a regular school and you can study a course at your own pace."

Make no mistake, gender inequality still exists. However, women are more likely than men to achieve a bachelor's degree or doctoral degree, and to excel in online learning programs. Through new educational opportunities, women are becoming the leaders of the future -- and inspiring the next generation of learners.

About the Author: Michele Thompson Rosario, CEO of Bright Effects, helping entrepreneurs get clients, get traffic, and get results.