Care responsibilities excluding women from tech, says TTC

Almost 12% of women have dropped out of their tech role to better fulfil care commitments, according to research by the Tech Talent Charter (TTC), with almost 40% of women saying whether or not they plan to stay in their role depends on their current care responsibilities.

Research by the membership organisation also found a lack of work-life balance was the top reason women chose to leave their tech roles, while women in tech who are able to work more flexibly have higher retention rates.

Karen Blake, Tech Talent Charter’s chief operating officer, said: “It’s really troubling to learn about the high number of women in tech who are feeling unhappy in their jobs. It’s especially discouraging to see that so many talented female technologists are considering leaving their positions or not staying for very long.”

Women being disproportionately responsible for caring roles was apparent even before the pandemic, but the work-from-home mandate highlighted how heavily affected women’s working lives were as they were hit with increased care responsibilities.

While only 11.4% of women who took part in TTC’s research outright claimed to be leaving their tech roles as a result of their care responsibilities, the research also found career development, or lack thereof, was the reason four out of five women chose to leave their tech role, with needing more pay also a big factor for women considering a change of role.

It’s well known the gender pay gap in tech exists in part because there are fewer women in higher up positions, in many cases because the age at which the average woman has children pauses their career progression – and with the cost of living likely inflating the cost of childcare, it’s no surprise women are seeking roles more suited to their situation.

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Confidence is still a factor for a number of women in the sector, with many women leaving their roles because they found some of the more technical aspects of the role too difficult or because they thought the role was boring.

This isn’t because women are less skilled than men – in many cases women have actually gone above and beyond to gain technology skills – as pointed out by the Tech Talent Charter, this is more likely to be down to women feeling they aren’t performing well enough.

Encouraging women to join the sector comes with its challenges, and it’s not uncommon for young women to avoid technology for this very reason – they feel like it will be too hard or that the industry is not for people like them.

Once women make it to the sector, keeping them is another thing altogether – More than half of women asked had left their current tech role to move into another, but 36% who have left or are planning to leave their jobs won’t be going on to another tech role.

A third of women are planning on leaving their current role, and only one in six women who have been in their technology role for more than a year are planning to stay. A quarter of women who have left a tech role in the past few years haven’t gone into another tech role.

Retention of diverse talent is an ongoing issue for the sector, and these women claim to be unhappy in their roles because they are not properly supporting their care responsibilities or their need for work/life balance, with many calling for more flexibility without the risk of this flexibility affecting their possible pay increases and career progression.

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But this isn’t just about being a parent, with work/life balance, salary and career progression also ranking in the top three reasons why women without children are choosing to leave tech roles. When people are dropping out of the sector altogether, it could point to a more fundamental issue with the culture of the sector itself.

Until recently, the technology sector has been associated with the “hustle culture” seen in Silicon Valley and some startups, which is not conducive of a diverse and inclusive workplace, but this is starting to change, and instead a more equitable and inclusive culture must take the forefront if diversity is to be achieved.

Blake said: “I firmly believe that we need to take decisive action to cultivate a more varied and inclusive workforce, so that women have equal prospects to thrive and advance in their careers. This study provides us with valuable insights that we can use to focus our efforts on creating a more inclusive workplace culture, implementing effective policies, and providing impactful training. By doing so, we can help to build a more robust industry that benefits everyone.”

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