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Women ride the ed-tech boom as opportunities click

By Amritha Pillay
September 21, 2020 13:01 IST
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Experts point out teaching in its online avatar helps address women specific concerns, like care-giving responsibilities, lack of safe public and work spaces, and the inability to move to cities.

Chandrasree Choudhury, a former lecturer of economics in Guwahati, is now looking for a career in the education technology (ed-tech) space.

The boom in demand for tech-driven teaching during the lockdown has opened vacancies for many women like Choudhury.

 

TeamLease Services alone has seen ed-tech companies post more than 20,000 jobs on the job portal in the last three months.

That is more than 200 jobs a day.

Ronnie Screwvala, co-founder of UpGrad, has added almost 1,000 new employees this year, higher than its total employee strength of 800 in 2019.

Another platform, Jobsforher, has seen a 30 per cent jump in education related vacancies in the July-September quarter over the previous quarter.

Twenty-eight-year-old Choudhury sees ed-tech as a perfect stepping stone to a corporate career.

The lure for many other women includes - flexibility, higher pay and the work-from-home model.

Experts point out teaching in its online avatar helps address women specific concerns, like care-giving responsibilities, lack of safe public and work spaces, and the inability to move to cities.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 730 incidents of sexual harassment in the public transport system reported in the country in 2018, higher than the 599 incidents reported in the previous year.

A number of such instances go widely unreported in India.

“Teaching is one of the most sought-after job roles that allows women the freedom to earn from home while managing other responsibilities,” says Neha Bagaria, founder and chief executive officer for Jobsforher.

UpGrad says the organisation’s gender ratio of 30 per cent women employees in 2019, has moved up to 34 per cent so far in 2020.

The organisation’s sales workforce is already at gender parity.

This is higher than the combined share of women employees in 77 of the S&P BSE 100 index companies, which was at 22.51 per cent for FY2019.

Neeti Sharma, senior vice president and management representative, TeamLease Services, points out, the pool available for education related jobs is largely women centred.

“With education turning virtual, number of school and college teachers, who have never used technology for teaching, suddenly became used to this new skill.

"That is where we see a number of applications coming from teachers, for Ed-tech companies.”

The online nature of these jobs has translated into more jobs for women in the smaller cities.

“Women in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities are skilled, qualified and capable, but just didn’t have enough job opportunities in these cities,” said Bagaria.

Various work from home opportunities, including those like ed-tech, have led to an increase of 25 per cent in the number of women from Tier2 and Tier 3 cities registering on the portal.

Anupama Kapoor, founder of Reboot, which also runs a career community for women says she is always on the lookout for avenues to enable women and help them gain agency.

She explains ed-tech opportunities address concerns like caregiving responsibilities that women are expected to fulfill and lack of access to safe public spaces and workplaces- both issues that restrict women's mobility.

“While I work daily to dismantle our social biases and stereotypes towards women, for now it seems that the ed-tech movement can provide tremendous opportunities for women,” she says.

Covid-19-induced online classes have also forced the older generation to pick online teaching skills, which they now seek to monetise.

Ed-tech opportunities are no more limited to the young.

Teamlease data shows that while 64 per cent of the women applicants for ed-tech are below 30 years, 23 per cent are between 30 to 50 years and 12 per cent are above.

For UpGrad, in the sales team, the company says where earlier 1 per cent out of the total workforce was more than 35-year-old, it has now increased to 5 per cent.

Some are also hopeful the online version of jobs will also help increase pay packages.

“Back in the times before the coronavirus hit us, a work-from-home role meant that your pay scale would amount to half, if not less, than what you’d earn in a full-time corporate job,” says Bagaria.

“Work from home options now include job roles like SAP consultants, UI/UX designers, App developers, accountants and teachers,” she added.

Others like Kapoor warn against the pitfall of once again seeing women as cost effective resources.

“We have to step back and evaluate the industry holistically and assess what kind of educators we need.

"Women need to be looked at equitably, for what they bring to the table as professionals and treated and paid equally too.

"Only then would India have made the most of the Ed-tech opportunity.”

Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

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Amritha Pillay in Mumbai
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