Looop’s Chief Learning Officer and L&D podcast host, David James, met up with Kate Graham, Head of Content at Fosway, to have a much-needed conversation about women in learning.

As part of the Fosway team, Kate knows how important it is to monitor trends within the L&D industry and question the status quo. That’s why she co-founded #WomenInLearning – a group of professionals who are sparking global conversations about diversity in learning and development

In this discussion, Kate and David talked about why and how #WomenInLearning was started, some of the barriers women in learning face, and how we can be part of the solution.

Tune in to episode 3 of the L&D podcast


Why Kate Started #WomenInLearning

It was Don Taylor’s research on the disparity between the number of women in senior roles and the number of women in the industry overall that caused Kate to start #WomenInLearning.

Unlike industries that are male dominant, such as the military, Don’s research showed that women aren’t underrepresented in L&D at all but, curiously, they still hold less than one-third of senior positions


Don Taylor’s Women in L&D – Still Not at the Top (Source: LinkedIn)


When Kate was confronted with the data, she – like many others – was shocked. She “did not expect to see such a disparity at that level.” Since then, Kate and her #WomenInLearning group have made it their mission to confront this disparity head on. 


What’s Stopping Women In Learning From Leading?


Kate at LearningNow TV promoting women in learning and leadership

Kate Graham (left) at LearningNow TV discussing women in learning (source: Twitter)


Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to why women in learning still seem to be paddling upstream. But the general obstacles women face in the workplace were highlighted in a study of 64,000 employees by McKinsey & Company. Here are a few of the biggest ones: 

  • Women – especially women of colour – receive less support from managers than men.
  • Women have less access to senior leaders than men.
  • Women view their company as less meritocratic than men do. This matters because employees who think their companies are unfair are less happy in their job and thus more likely to leave their company.
  • Women are less interested in being top executives than men. When they do land a senior position, women and men see the benefits differently.
  • Women face everyday discrimination including microaggressions that challenge their competence and authority. Black women, particularly, are more likely than other women to have their judgment questioned in their area of expertise.

The two biggest contributors to female leadership are hiring and promotions. Sadly, companies place women at a disadvantage in these areas from the get-go.


Be Part Of The Conversation 

Though the #WomenInLearning movement continues to gain traction, Kate suggests that inclusivity and diversity within L&D will only happen when each of us starts taking responsibility and raising awareness. 

Small steps over time make a big difference. And the first step to solving a problem is knowing that the problem exists in the first place. 

Deepen your understanding of inclusion and diversity in L&D by listening to Kate and David in episode 3 of the L&D podcast here

Then help others to gain awareness by: