Inspire inclusion in education for International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! Today is a day set aside to celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness about women's equality, and lobby for accelerated gender parity. The theme for 2024 is “Inspire inclusion.” At Certiport, we’re dedicated to inspiring our educators and customers to create a more inclusive educational experience for the learners they serve.

Creating a more inclusive classroom for female students will require focused effort. Today, we want to give teachers practical takeaways they can use daily. Find out how you can challenge the status quo and create a more equitable educational environment.

Bring Female Professionals into the Classroom

According to 2019 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women account for roughly 47% of the workforce, and roughly 52% of all employees in management and professional fields. Women are represented in nearly every field you may be teaching. You can inspire female students to pursue various career paths by inviting in successful female professionals as guest speakers.

In a recent webinar discussing diversity in cybersecurity, we talked with Priya Senthilkumar, Vice President of Technology at Pearson VUE. Priya was quick to emphasize the power of guest speakers in inspiring the next generation of female professionals. “Educators can bring in successful professionals as guest speakers. And, you know, students may not be enrolled in your class. When students see individuals that they can relate to, when they see their own characteristics in someone else, they’re more likely to pay attention. They’ll think, ‘I can see myself like them someday.’”

Not sure where to find professionals who can come and share their time with your students? Start with your past students and your institution’s alumni network. Yulini Persaud, Senior Information Security Analyst for the New York Times said, “I am so happy, as an alumnus, when past teachers reach out with opportunities to share my experience in their classrooms, and I know I’m not alone. I'm sure if you're at a CTE program or even a university, you've had some graduates who are more than willing to come back and chat with your current class.”

Promote Opportunities Outside the Classroom

Inclusivity in education may start in the classroom, but that’s certainly not where it ends. Help your students see opportunities outside the classroom, both those connected to school and beyond.

One opportunity Yulini highlighted was her school’s CyberPatriot club. Yulini recalled, “I was very lucky to have a shop teacher in 12th grade who recommended us for the CyberPatriot program. It’s a high school competition that prepares students to learn how to protect different operating systems. Through this club, I got hands-on experience with Linux, Windows, Mac OS, and more. I loved that they were real-world scenarios.”

If you’re open to expanding the scope further, you can connect students with non-school sponsored activities, such as internships. Priya highlighted opportunities happening in her home state. “Minnesota is trying ‘micro-internships.’ It’s not a full-scale summer internship, but rather an opportunity for students to take an hour or so a week during the school year to go and shadow a professional in a field they’re interested in. I think this is a low-cost, time effective way to help cement students’ interest in a particular field.”

Help Female Students Earn Industry-Recognized Credentials

You’re expanding your students’ vision and opportunities. Now you can solidify their skills with industry-recognized credentials that they can take with them into their future careers. Certiport offers a broad portfolio of industry-recognized certifications, covering fields from graphic design to engineering, from entrepreneurship to cybersecurity and networking. Whatever fields your students choose to pursue, an industry-recognized certification will help prove their skills and set them apart. You can learn more about the value of certifications here.

Tomorrow’s female professionals are in your classroom today. Now is the time to inspire inclusion and give them the network, opportunities, and skills they need to succeed.