How to prevent women leaving their careers in tech?

How to prevent women leaving their careers in tech?

There has been many times in my career where I have looked for the ‘get out’ clause whilst working in tech.

However it wasn’t the tasks of the job, more of the lack of support around them. In some cases sexism and disrespect. Comments thrown at me about my image, clothes that I wore and asking inappropriate questions about my personal life.

But, what I struggled with the most was the unachievable objectives and constant pressure to prove myself being the only female in the team.

No-one had prepared me for this.

Why was this happening?

Was I the only one?

And what could I do now to make change?

So, I did my research. I wanted to really understand the cause and effect of the hard truths that women tend to face pursuing their career in tech. And how we can start to change the face of women in tech leadership.

Now this article isn’t all doom and gloom, although you do need to know the facts.

This is an article, that despite, once upon a time a hiring male manager asked me if I had kids, was planning to have kids and is being in tech really for me…

I still succeeded and I am proud of being a woman in tech. Here is how we can all make change, to make the industry more desirable and retain our superstars.

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Now, let’s start with the stats

And goodness, they say it all.

3% of females say a career in technology is their first choice. *

5% of leadership positions in the tech sector are held by women. *

50% of women leave their tech careers at the age of 35. **

“I left because the environment did not support me as a woman of color nor as a professional. I was intentionally left off of emails that were critical to doing my job, talked over in meetings, talked down to, and excluded from social events.”**

“The majority of women who stay in tech (73%) said they considered leaving their tech careers at some point because of limited opportunity for advancement (27%), unfair compensation compared with male peers (25%), and little support of management (22%), the report found.” ***

The more articles I read, the four common themes kept resurfacing.

  • Gender pay gap
  • Discrimination
  • Lack of opportunities
  • Tech jobs are not desirable.

To me it is clear.

The cause and effect are:

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Why?

Why is the cause happening? I sat and pondered what I wanted to write here. Do I do a 5 whys exercise? Or Do I just say it how it is?

I decided to say it how it is.

Misogyny. The outdated views of society and unachievable objectives we put on women and ourselves.

How do we prevent women leaving their careers in tech?

Early part of last year I wrote a LinkedIn article about the rise and fall of Women in Tech. Since then I have been thinking more about what prevented me from leaving and what would prevent others.

Here are my thoughts:

Create better cultures

This is the responsibility of all organisations and their people.

Companies need to create a culture where equality is at the heart of their value system. Which means creating internal groups like Women in Tech or Diversity in Tech, to give a fair platform for their staff.

This isn’t a tick box exercise. Ensure those groups have funding as well as the capacity to support.

Organisations can educate themselves on diversity topics by allowing their staff to:

  • Attend and have a presence at networking events.
  • Be involved in think tanks and hackathons.
  • Invest by bringing in expert companies and people to coach their staff.

With so many resources, there really is no excuse for ignorance.

Companies need to be transparent with regards to pay, use gender neutral language on job specs and use their social media platforms to market their own women in tech forums.

And Management… they need to become leader and support personal and professional development. Learning and development is key to empowering teams, growing an individual and the success to an organisation. By ensuring and securing budget for training and opening channels for staff to learn technical and industry skills – this will be the start of a journey for many to follow.

Servant Leadership

A servant leader focuses first on the growth and well-being of their employees, as a means of achieving success for customers, shareholders, and themselves. 

This is an employee centric model, that is in place across many tech-related firms.

Traditional leadersNext Gen servant leaders
Sets the destination through command and control, i.e., “Do this”Sets the direction through inspiring and empowering, i.e., “What could you try to do this?”
Managers are in charge of teamsManagers are in charge of removing barriers for teams
Delegates the daily work – acts as a team manager/coachDoes the daily work – acts as a team player
Sees employees as resources and headcountSees employees as people and thought partners
Measures success through outputMeasures success through value creation
Measures productivity by utilisation – people on the team have to be 100% allocated and utilised at all timesMeasures productivity by flow – people in teams have to go where the work and demand is to make sure we achieve pace with the model, they also set aside time to think

No more mythical training budgets

Seriously though.

I recently read that women working in non-technical IT roles are not given the opportunity to progress into technical roles. As a result, women are leaving both the company and IT all together!

So TRAIN YOUR FEMALE STAFF MEMBERS!

To conclude

The representation of women in tech roles has been increasing. Yet, there are still generations to come to continue to fight our Women in Tech battles before we see such a diverse change.

However, if start to think outside of our boxes and we work together, I believe we could start to change the face our IT departments. Our leadership role models. And, our world.

Resources:

*PWC Women in Tech Time to close the gender gap

**19 Women shared why they are quitting their tech jobs

*** Why more than half of women leave the tech industry?


About me!
Work related stress and how to manage it

Work related stress and how to manage it

It was reported that 73% of British workers took time out of work because of stress in the work place… and 19% quit on the spot!

From Lack of support and excessive workload. To poor company culture and incompetent colleagues. There are many factors that lead to stress. I explore how work related stress impacts your and how we can implement some remedies to alleviate the excessive pressures.

HSE’s formal definition of work-related stress is: “The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work.”

Stress V Stretch

Although stress is a state more than an illness, however, it is worth noting that if stress becomes too excessive and prolonged – mental and physical illness may develop.

Work related stress develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. Stress can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as mistakes and errors.

Stress can hit anyone at any level of the business. From looking into this topic further as well as discussing this at my networking group, it was found that work related stress is widespread and is not confined to particular sectors, jobs or industries.

Pressures at work compared to stress caused because of work has a clear difference: Pressure can be positive, motivating factor in someone’s career, and is often essential. It can help us achieve our goals as well as perform better.

Stress occurs when this pressure becomes excessive.

Stress affects people in different ways and what one person finds stressful can be normal to another. With each new situation a person will decide what the challenge is and whether they have the resources to cope. If they decide they don’t have the resources, they will begin to feel stressed. How they appraise the situation will depend on various factors, including:

  • Background and culture
  • Skills and experience
  • Personality
  • Personal circumstances
  • Health status
  • Ethnicity, gender, age or disability

Just like how people are affected by stress, the ways of managing can be different for each individual. It is all well and good to talk about a work life balance, however what people really need are tools and techniques to help them.

How to alleviate work related stress can be managed by:

At Work:

  • Talking to your manager, colleague or HR. There is no shame in saying that the current pressures that are on you are causes you to feel stressed. It is always best to take some examples with you that include situation when you have felt stressed or document you current work load to show your manager. By talking, you are highlighting the problem. You never know, you might be able to recruit a junior to support you.
  • Get a priority list together. Have you ever used a Kanban board? Such a great way to visually see what you need to do and what you have achieved. (also GREAT for reporting) You can use Trello which is a free online tool.
  • Be part of a culture change. Do you have an idea to help improve team performance? an Idea on how to feel calmer at work? Maybe introduce a well-being Wednesday? Be the change you want to see.

For Yourself:

  • Change your job or career direction. This one will take more time and planning. However, if you really are struggling this might be the option.
  • Have a break. Stop, put down your work phone and be present with your family and friends.
  • Exercise! Make time to go for a walk/run. Go to that gym class. Getting out helps clear the mind, looking after yourself will help with all aspects of your life and your mental health.

Do you have a story of stressed caused by work? Or do you have any suggestions of remedies? Comment below to share.