Retaining Women in Tech

Image source: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/3299930/images/n-WOMAN-COMPUTER-large570.jpg

Image source: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/3299930/images/n-WOMAN-COMPUTER-large570.jpg

We know the tech industry has problems retaining women, but what tangible steps can companies take to fix this issue?

A Culture Amp study of 40,000 tech industry employees found five reasons for retention: “good career opportunities, confidence in company leaders, satisfaction with their current role relative to how it was described to them, open and honest communication, and belief that the company is effectively directing resources towards company goals.”

Women who left the tech industry cited issues regarding flexibility, lack of maternity leave, and a discriminatory or uncomfortable work environment as reasons for their departures.

In response, Belle Beth Cooper, co-Founder of Exist, recommends the following three ways to increase female retention in tech:

  1. Use surveys to discover, and address, female employees’ concerns;
  2. Offer better maternity and paternity-leave packages; and
  3. Provide part-time and job-sharing opportunities, particularly for new mothers.

Cooper further notes that emphasizing recruitment is perhaps less critical than focusing on the retention issue, considering this strategy to be “like pouring water into a leaky bucket.”

Finally, it is important to acknowledge the great strides some companies have made in this regard. For example, Pinterest made public specific diversity goals for 2016, noting that few companies have done so. Etsy encourages female recruitment through the Hacker School. Finally, at UC Berkley, this year’s female introduction to computer science students exceeded male students in the course.

While there is much to be done to improve both recruitment and retention for female talent in tech, these are clearly important steps in the right direction.

Source: Belle Beth Cooper, Huffington Post Blog