Take The Credit: Filling Pipeline Gender Gap With Education Loans

Learning new skills can ease the pay gap for women and also fill the pipeline in tech and other fields.A study of nearly 1,300 students who took part in the Climb Credit program of loans for education and certification shows that after graduating, each alum had a median income increase of nearly 67 percent. Another 60 percent who were unemployed before earning a degree or certification paid for by the Climb loan had full time employment.“Because women are generally not paid as much as men, the cost of these four-year programs disproportionately affects women,” says Sara Jeruss, Climb’s chief product officer, affiliated with programs on 200 campuses around the country, many with specific coding and tech programs.[bctt tweet=“Learning new skills can ease the #paygap for women and also fill the pipeline in tech and other fields.” username=“takeleadwomen”]Since 2014 when Climb launched, more than 5,500 students have borrowed $60 million for tuition on more than 200 campuses around the country.That means these online loans are available to non-traditional students 18 and older looking beyond two or four-year universities and colleges and students who want specific coding training programs and bootcamps. Most clients of Climb are in the 25-34 year old range.According to Jeruss, one client was with an associate’s degree was earning $28,000 per year as a wedding photographer. After completing her training program, she was earning $52,000 as a junior developer.At each career stage, the keys to parity are to “prepare, develop, inspire and propel” a woman into a leadership position, according to Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead, that offers leadership training programs of all types.According to Course Report, in its 2017 round up of the best programs,  “Coding bootcamps are intensive, accelerated learning programs that teach beginners digital skills like Full-Stack Web Development, Data Science, Digital Marketing, and UX/UI Design. Bootcamps can vary in length from 6 to 28 weeks, although the average bootcamp is 12 weeks long.”Course Report’s latest 2016 Outcomes & Demographics Report shows “cities with the highest average salaries remain the large tech hubs with plenty of developer jobs: San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, New York City, Denver, and Los Angeles were among the cities with highest mean and median salaries. States like California, Washington, Texas, New York, and Colorado were among the states with highest mean and median salaries. Bootcamp grads in San Francisco saw the highest average salary of $100,779.”While coding camps are only one area that Climb offers loans to students, it is a burgeoning industry. That is because four-year colleges and universities may be prohibitive to many in terms of costs. And many of the candidates looking for training may already be college graduates.The good news is that in some traditional educational systems, the numbers of women are increasing in tech.[bctt tweet=“In some traditional educational systems, the numbers of women are increasing in tech. #womenintech” username=“takeleadwomen”]“At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 42 percent of computer-science majors are women, up from 34 percent five years ago. The ratio is similar at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where female representation was as low as 7 percent in the 1990s,” according to Bloomberg. “Another promising sign: The pipeline of women who might go into tech is filling even earlier,” according to Bloomberg. “Last year, 26 percent of high school students who took Advanced Placement tests in computer science were girls, up from 17 percent a decade ago.”See Take The Lead’s related story on The Flatiron School.“The goal is to transform education and make life-changing education available to everyone,” says Jeruss, who spent four years as a patent lawyer in San Francisco from 2008-2012 before working as product director at Lex Machina, followed by three years at Facebook on the privacy team until 2016. Jeruss joined the fintech company, Climb, in 2017.Partnering schools include the American College of Education, offering masters degrees for teachers, and General Assembly, offering coding camps plus Northeast Technical Institute and Sage Truck Driving Schools.With price tags for these programs averaging around $10,000 for a few months, Climb offers perhaps the only solution for tuition loans for students who do not have reliable or good credit. The loans are mostly between $5,000 to $20,000 with three to five years in terms and have a range of interest rates from 6 to 14 percent, with an average of 8.4 percent interest rates, according to the Climb Credit website.Other resources for finding jobs and the education and training required for those positions is available at CareerOneStop. The Department of Justice’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 helps by “providing job-driven occupational or technical training for American workers and jobseekers.”Some of these programs may be state funded, but many are not. Those are the private training programs that often require loans for tuition.[bctt tweet=“As the demographics of #tech and other fields shift to be more inclusive of women and persons of color, one critical step may be in education” username=“takeleadwomen”]As the demographics of tech and other fields shift to be more inclusive of women and persons of color, one critical step may be in the education, training and preparation necessary to fill the pipelines and change the culture and makeup of workplaces.