The Future of Work: Education & Workforce Gaps Affecting Colorado Women

Women are critical to the future of work and the stability and growth of Colorado’s economy. In 2018, the Bell Policy Center looked at the changing world of work from a gender lens, including trends in automation and emerging technology, the growth in alternative work arrangements, and changing education and training needs. This brief builds on that work by taking a closer look at two aspects of Colorado’s learning and work environment for women: Attainment in two- and four-year degree programs and growth in women-dominated professions.

Today, women make up the majority of postsecondary students and degree earners, but many still find themselves funneled into careers with low pay and little opportunity for advancement. While it’s unclear exactly why this breakdown occurs, it does offer distinct opportunities for strategic public investment to shape Colorado’s future of work and women’s place in it.

Though women face systemic discrimination that’s far beyond the scope of this latest analysis, Colorado can prioritize programs that assist women through the pipeline from postsecondary education into stable, well-compensated employment. By increasing public investment in the industries primarily dominated by women workers and strengthening workplace protections and opportunities for advancement, our state can ensure Colorado women have a strong foothold in the economy of tomorrow.

This addendum to our previous work is not meant to be an exhaustive update to the challenges and opportunities facing Colorado women. It’s a chance for us to continue our important research and analysis on how to better ensure women’s success in our state’s workforce and economy. As we explore more about what the future of work means for Colorado women, we’ll continue to build on both our 2018 report, The Future of Work: Implications for Colorado Women, and this brief, The Future of Work: Education & Workforce Gaps Affecting Colorado Women.

This brief was funded by a grant from The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, made with support from The Chambers Fund, a donor-advised fund of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado.