New survey data show pandemic may be disproportionately influencing women to choose online education over in-person options.

By Lindsay McKenzie

Women have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and this may be why they feel they cannot pursue in-person education, even if previously this would have been their preference, said C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Women are more likely to have lost work because of the pandemic and are more likely to be caring for children or family members at home, making balancing work, education and home life difficult, said Mason.

Currently more women than men are enrolled in higher education programs, but Mason worries that we may see an increase in women, particularly single mothers, dropping out or delaying their education because of insufficient funds and a lack of childcare support.

Both IWPR and the American Association of University Women are pushing for policy makers to introduce more funding for women pursuing higher education during the pandemic. Both organizations are concerned it is exacerbating existing inequalities for women. The IWPR is pushing for student parents to be prioritized in COVID-19 relief funding, among other policy initiatives. Reducing the burden of student loan debt is among the AAUW’s priorities.

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