And how can organizations uncover these employment opportunities?
For the last several years there has been a big push to get high school and college age young women interested in STEM education and ultimately careers. With the abundant employment opportunities in technology striving for these careers should be a no brainer – and it is, woman are entering the field in droves! Unfortunately, once they land jobs in technology they are leaving in equally large numbers. With all this emphasis on getting women into tech, why are they leaving? How can this exodus be if not halted, at least slowed?
While women do get hired into tech jobs, they leave at a rate 45% greater than men. Over half of highly qualified women (52%) leave STEM positions. Of those who do stay 56% leave by the time they reach a mid-level position; men outnumber women in senior technical positions three to one. While wage disparity and lack of salary transparency are part of the equation, the number one reason women site for leaving these jobs is lack of opportunity for advancement. Without a clearly defined path for career growth women seem to be forced to remain in the junior or entry level positions where they started. Because of that these women are not being challenged, they become bored and ultimately leave the position they worked so hard to get.
There were two added reasons women gave for leaving tech positions. Right behind the lack of career growth employment opportunities was wage disparity and a lack of salary transparency. Ironically in these very highly paid tech positions, the pay gap has gotten worse for women. Companies offered women from 4 – 45% less than man for the same job. It is important to note that women also seem to undervalue their market worth, asking for an average of 6% less salary 66% of the time.
The third most reason was the ‘Work/Life’ balance issue, although only 14% of women said that as their reason for leaving their tech positions. Men also stated this as a reason for leaving high tech roles. Regardless of the position or industry both women and men, especially millennials are seeking better work/life balance. While willing to work long hours when truly necessary, millennials want to be involved with their families & friends, their communities, and the world at large.
What can an organization do to help keep women in tech roles? First it is imperative to increase the opportunities for advancement. One way to address this is with a mentoring program to ensure women are on target to move forward in the organization as well as offering opportunities for more education. Not just technical skills, but the softer skills of communication and leadership are key to career growth. Senior management needs to make sure these opportunities are offered equally to women and men.
To effectively address wage transparency, providing salary ranges for a position in the job description provides employees with an opportunity to see where they fall in the range when taking the position. While this may seem counter intuitive, in reality the old mantra of never sharing salary information didn’t work either. Employees always seemed to find out what other staffers were paid. Salary transparency can help your organization attract quality staff who can feel confident they are paid fairly for the work they perform.
Work/Life balance can be a much more difficult ‘nut to crack’. Employees themselves must set their own boundaries, feeling confident they are not expected to work unreasonable hours. When managers and project leaders can be trusted to ask employees to only put in the additional time only when it is truly needed, staff is more likely to work with them to complete the necessary work. There are always going to be situations where staff will have to do what it takes to complete the task or project. But when staff can feel confident that their needs are being considered and everyone is working together, they will step up be part of the team effort.
Organizations do have a responsibility to create work environments that provide growth opportunities for women, as well as address the other issues that are causing women to leave tech. But, women themselves share the burden to find solutions and take action. It seems in spite of Sheryl Sandberg’s advice that women “Lean In” it appears that very few actually do. Approximately half of the women who left tech, neither asked for a raise nor actively sought out opportunities for growth or transition to a new role. In a field so full of opportunity where men clearly outnumber women, women who want to succeed must take action to create change. Oh, and those organizations that institute ‘diversity friendly’ policies and programs, increased their revenue 12% on average and uncovering employment opportunities for both women in tech and employers.
GATE has more than a decade of experience in the technology recruiting field and we can help your organization find the right candidates to get and keep those tech positions filled. Give us a call at 877-534-3269 or drop us an email to get started!