80% of women in tech considered taking time off from work for parenting and 70% felt they couldn’t come back if they left.
In modern-day, we as a society believe that women are strong. They can be independent, they should be treated equal to men, and most importantly, they should get the same opportunities men have. But if we take a closer look at the expectations society sets for women’s role as mothers we see why so few women have a successful tech career.
I conducted a survey to find out how many women working in the tech industry with high-level positions felt about having to balance motherhood and their careers constantly. I discovered that 80% of women in tech considered taking time off from work to care for their children, and moreover, 70% of them felt it was going to be difficult to get back into their careers if they did take time off. On the contrary, none of the men in the study ever considered taking time off their careers for their kids. Obviously, there is inequity in the parental obligations between men and women, particularly for those in the tech industry. This is a problem so present in women’s lives they’ve revealed that their careers have been in jeopardy due to this issue.
From these new statistics, it seems that society cannot function without proper care for children, and this responsibility is disproportionately placed on women. As a result, women often need to sacrifice their careers for their kids, whereas men don’t. This is an obstacle that only girls have to be prepared for if they are dreaming of a tech career. Many women have tried to be the doting mother and have ambitious careers, but ended up giving up their jobs, and even those who found a way to do both say that they’ve come close to losing their careers.
What can we do as a society for these talented women to be able to come back to the tech industry? We have to:
- Give women who have left their careers a chance to come back.
- Support women who are doing both now.
Making a Strong Comeback
After speaking to the COO of DispatchTrack, Shailaja Satish said, “we often find that women who are applying for tech jobs after leaving the industry for a few years to take care of their child, they come back with certain soft skills that make them strong managers.” If this is the case, then why is it so hard for women to get back into the industry once they’ve left for a couple years? Ms. Satish explained, “the tech industry simply moves so fast that anyone who leave even for a year falls behind.” So I asked, if there were a way for women to take classes and train themselves to catch up to the industry, would you hire them? Ms. Satish replied, “Actually, yes, that would be a very good idea to help us employ more women in our R&D (Reseach and Development) departement.”
We also need to help the women who are already working in tech and are mothers. One difficulty that many working mothers are frustrated with is how early public schools end. Especially mothers of young kids have to either take on uncomfortable shifts or leave work early just to pick up their kids from school. One solution that schools can implement is offering extended care for kids with working mothers. Kids can finish homework and socialize with peers while being supervised by a staff member so that a working mother can pick up their kids at a convenient time without worrying about their child’s well-being. Some private schools are already implementing such measures and majority of the mothers of the students work.
There is a mirage of equality between men and women in the industry, but this survey, I found out that majority of women in tech struggle to balance the social expectations of what a mother should be and her career. This could be the reason why so there are so few women in the industry, and even fewer women leaders.