While the average online college student is a woman in her early 30s, the massive open online course (MOOC) landscape has been dominated by men since the courses first took hold in 2012.

women-MOOCs-onlineThe MOOC gender gap, as recently as a year ago, was startling for many ed-tech observers, as nine in 10 students in one MOOC identified themselves as male. This while women “see online degrees as more achievable than traditional on-ground program” by a margin of three-to-one, according to a survey released by Western International University.

The lack of women in MOOCs was hardly shocking for many who track the nontraditional classes since science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) — a male dominated area — is so prevalent in MOOCs.

The question remains: which online courses are women taking when they sign up for a MOOC?

Coursera recently sought to answer that question, drilling down into enrollment data to see which classes, exactly, women were taking on the popular Coursera platform.

Food and nutrition topped the list of Coursera classes women prefer, with more than 60 percent of enrollees in those classes identifying as female. Teacher professional development ranked second with almost 60 percent female enrollment.

Medicine, arts, and health and society came in a close third with more than 50 percent female enrollment.

But again, it was STEM courses and related fields that saw low levels of female enrollment and participation, according to Coursera’s findings.

(Next page: See what percentage of women took STEM MOOCs)


Add your opinion to the discussion.