Ivy.ai's VP of Sales Lindsey Miller addresses equality in her field and considers how chatbots could have helped her in college.
Bridging the Gender Parity Gap in Edtech
Women are well represented in the higher education workforce, making up 60 percent of professional roles in the field. Yet in the world of technology, it’s a different story, with women filling just 25 percent of roles. Education technology ("edtech") mimics the disappointing trend seen in other STEM fields. Women represent less than half of the labor force and only 20 percent when it comes to tech roles. Ivy.ai’s Vice President of Sales Lindsey Miller observed this early in her career and decided to buck the trend.
“I didn’t have many women leaders early in my career, and that helped motivate me to become one.”
Lindsey has been in edtech in various capacities for 15 years. She launched her career working at an academic publisher, where she became familiar with the higher education ecosystem and began to identify the numerous moving parts that contribute to the student experience.
Volunteering as an English-as-a-second language (ESL) teacher to non-degree seeking students allowed her to view higher education from a different lens. “This is where I discovered my passion for student success, and a focus on equality and access in higher education,” she says.
As of 2019, female college students in the U.S. made up 57 percent of the student body. In subsectors of higher education institutions, such as academic affairs, student affairs and fiscal affairs, women hold close to 70 percent of leadership positions.
“Female representation at edtech firms is critical if the industry hopes to mirror the population it serves,” she says. “I’m proud to play a role in changing this disparity and creating a more representative demographic.”
Lindsey is honored to collaborate with many strong female leaders at Ivy.ai’s client institutions and remains resolute in her feeling that there must be a similar female presence in the boardroom at edtech firms. “It’s not acceptable to just say your company is equally balanced overall. Organizations need diversity at the very top.”
Overcoming Barriers in Higher Education
In higher education, there’s a phenomenon referred to as “summer melt,” where prospective college students' motivation to attend college "melts" away during the summer between the end of high school and beginning of college. Oftentimes, this is a result of unforeseen barriers with tuition and the enrollment process that can lead to low retention rates, hurting higher education across the board.
As a financially independent student, Lindsey experienced these challenges firsthand and developed a profound appreciation for institutions that offer quality, affordable education. While doing her best to cover her tuition and living expenses by working multiple jobs, she found a home at Blinn College.
It wasn’t until she transferred to Texas A&M University, where she ultimately graduated with a B.A. in Communication, that she reached out to the financial aid office for help. Looking back, she acknowledges that the services provided today by chatbots would have made things easier.
“It was hard for me to ask for help. Today, students at Blinn College and Texas A&M* can just ask a chatbot without fear of judgement or needing to know the right things to say. The bot can proactively prompt them with the information they need or connect them to a live agent.”
As a proud alum, Lindsey is excited to see both institutions doing their part to close the gender gap in their STEM programs. Blinn College offers a Nontraditional Pathways program for both male and female students that aims to expose them to career paths that are typically held by the opposite gender. Included in the program for women are ten science and technology degrees and certificates.
Ranking first in Texas and 12th nationally for colleges that graduate the most women in STEM, Texas A&M maintains a collegewide effort to not only eliminate the underrepresentation of women in these majors, but to champion them by promoting involvement and retention in their field.
Always one to take action on issues important to her, Lindsey lends a hand in championing female Aggies by serving as a mentor to current students with the Texas A&M Women’s Mentoring Circle. Additionally, she’s a mentor in her local community, partnering with Chicago Scholars, an organization that supports students through the college application process and into college.
*Both Blinn College and Texas A&M University are Ivy.ai clients.