This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Women in tech are leaving work in droves; the UK is experiencing a 'digital skills shortage'; Black Girls Code creates a future workforce; and more.
Just a year ago, the number of working women was higher than the number of working men, according to TechRepublic. Today, that is no longer the case, due to the pandemic. In the past year, nearly 3 million women have left their jobs in order to care for family members or educate their children, and it's not known when they will be returning to the workforce. Author Susan Faludi said, "Women have been set back decades," because of this, both in terms of day-to-day income struggles and ability to move up the ranks. Likewise, at the Women Tech Council's virtual summit, this past year was described as "the first female recession," Utah news site KSL explained. "In the tech field, 47% of all women feel their career has been delayed because of the pandemic and 25% of women have considered leaving the workforce completely, due in part to lost career mobility. During the pandemic, men have received three times more promotions than women," the article states. Who's ready for a comeback? (See WiCipedia: Women find opportunities for entrepreneurship in pandemic.)
Necessary but unnurtured
This statistic hits women of color even harder, with a reported one third stating they are planning to leave their jobs by next year. The findings come from a Fairygodboss and nFormation survey of 800 women of color, nearly half of whom blamed "burnout" for their reason for wanting to leave. Many also mentioned they are "looking to fulfill a greater sense of purpose as we emerge from COVID-19." More than a third of respondents stated that the pandemic had no impact on their decision to want to quit, only slightly more than the percentage of women of color who stated that the pandemic sped up their desire to leave their job. Half of respondents said that a promotion or raise would be the golden ticket to enticing them to keep their jobs, signaling a huge lack of these rewards and motivators in current worklife. Maybe because they're all going to men (see previous paragraph). (See WiCipedia: Minority numbers in STEM studies still lag.)
Black Girls Code, an organization in the San Francisco Bay Area that works to teach minority girls hands-on STEM skills, is aiming to shape the future generation of code queens. The group works with "underrepresented communities" to ensure they have career options and skills when entering the workforce. "We like to call our girls future tech bosses," said Founder and Executive Director Kimberly Bryant. "It's problematic that women in the tech industry are less than 3%, especially in technical roles. But I think we are part of the solution in terms of where the industry needs to go and grow. For the girls that are coming into our program, it is vitally important that they have this exposure early on." One participant, ten-year-old Ife Joseph, stated, "At school, I've been having problems. At Black Girls Code, they see my real potential, unlike some of my teachers." (See WiCipedia: The lack of women in tech is bigger than a 'pipeline problem'.)
Over in the UK, BBC explains that a "digital skills shortage" is on the horizon, especially for young women. In general, the number of students studying STEM has dropped by 40% in the past five years. This is due to a number of reasons, including "a lack of clearly-defined job roles in certain fields, a lack of understanding and guidance about potential career paths, a lack of relatable role models [ and] a difficulty in making many technical professions seem appealing to young people, especially young women." This rapid decline will have major consequences for the future of tech in the UK, especially as the need for such skills is rising steeply. (See WiCipedia: Should tech jobs require college degrees?.)
Compared to most industries, women in tech don't really have it so rough. There's the generous pay, ample benefits and time off, fancy offices and even work-from-home options. Yet there's one thing that causes burnout faster than anything for women in tech: male bosses. A Girls in Tech study found that during the pandemic, 63% of women in tech who had male bosses experienced symptoms of burnout, compared to 44% of women in tech with female bosses. And that's not all. The study found that when the CEO of the company was a man, a whopping 85% of female employees reported burnout, compared with only 15% of those with a female CEO. You can read more about the shocking results of the study here. (See WiCipedia: Ivanka Trump's CES Keynote & Male Bosses Promote Men More.)
— Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading. Follow us on Twitter @LR_WiC and contact Eryn directly at [email protected].