Gender diversity is a long-standing issue in the workforce and especially in the tech industry
The majority of women in tech have said that they considered leaving their tech careers at some point because of limited opportunity for advancement, unfair compensation compared with male peers, and little support of management.
Women who have stayed in the technology industry rank the work itself as the top factor for staying in their field. But it is a common misconception that women are somehow not wired for technical fields or do not have the skills to take on these careers, but surveys prove otherwise. Women love challenging, meaningful work that is intellectually stimulating.
Almost all female techies who stayed in their careers said a sense of purpose as a very important trait for successful individuals. However, women also outlined other qualities necessary to not only survive, but be successful, in the tech world.
Women in tech need to have grit. This idea of grit was a hunch that needed to be included, as it has been observed that perhaps orientation towards perseverance can make a difference. The women in technology felt part of their success was oriented around their own sense of grit, determination, perseverance, and focus. Specifically, women who reached senior positions.
Glue work is expected mainly from senior; however, it can be damaging to your career when you’re not. If a software engineer often finds themselves coordinating projects rather than coding, chances are that you’re the glue within your department. Glue work includes updating roadmaps, on-boarding junior engineers, talking to users and checking in on other members of your team. Women who are good at glue work are often forced to move industries because their engineering skills are in decline as a result of their brilliant soft skills. On paper, their technical contribution might be wanting, in reality, they are the backbone of their team.
There is a need for flexible working in tech. According, to female tech leaders they felt that it encouraged staff to stay with a company longer. Flexible working manifests itself in many ways, including:
- Moving certain weekday hours to work from home weekend slots
- Job sharing
- Compressed hours – working usual hours in fewer days
‘Big Tech’ companies are paving the way for maternity and paternity rights in a bid to retain talent. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, for instance, famously took two months’ leave after the birth of his daughter and, company-wide, has even introduced funding for IVF treatment and egg freezing. Small tech companies, however, generally remain below par in the treatment of their pregnant employees. In the UK, working women are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave. They receive six weeks of maternity pay. This places the UK in the penultimate slot within a survey of 24 European countries, sometimes participants believed that men strongly contributed to their dissatisfaction of their fellow female colleagues.
Lack of Support for New Mothers and Return
More than a third of women in tech consider handing in their notice after returning from maternity leave. Additionally, it is reported that mothers were reported to have been fired or made redundant soon after returning to work. The technology sector is the fastest growing globally, making it especially difficult for women to return to work after the birth of a child. The same goes for older women known as ‘returners’. Women reported feeling inadequate because technology, and the manner in which their projects were managed, had advanced quickly in their absence.
How Tech Companies Can Encourage Women to Stay:
The women in tech must be pioneer to the role models in their company, and participate in the peer groups, and training opportunities. To help companies retain their female tech talent, the report outlined the following five tips:
- Give women challenging and rewarding work with opportunities for advancement.
- Make sure the right training is available at the right time for female employees.
- Provide women with work-life balance and fair pay.
- Encourage mentorship, peer networks, and social connections specifically for women.
- Support women in finding and deepening their sense of purpose.