A recent study by global research and advisory firm, Gartner, shows that women leave technology jobs at “twice the rate of their male counterparts”. By the time they reach the midpoint of their careers, 56% have dropped out. With more than half leaving, it’s easy to see why there are fewer women at senior levels. This is creating a dismal scenario for the future of growth at executive levels because so few women are even in computer science.
Only 18% of computer science graduates are women, so when more than half of them leave, a very small percentage of women are left in the field of technology. How can these rates be changed? What steps can companies take to increase the rate of retention for a more diverse workforce?
In “Retention Strategies to Build a Gender Diverse IT Workforce”, by Gartner analysts Debra Logan and Carol Rozwell, the two researchers recommend that companies need to assess and resolve the “female flight risk.” To accomplish this, steps to be taken include making “pay equality a priority”, assessing the culture within the IT departments, and having inclusive leadership.
The first step is understanding why so many women leave computer science after starting in the field. There are already so few female computer science graduates, which makes it unrealistic to expect to solve the gender gap by merely hiring more women. Rather, it is more efficient and less costly to retain current female employees. Part of committing to lower attrition rates is to be open to discuss why women in a company leave. It is crucial to have a non judgmental and open minded attitude in these types of conversations.
Women must feel comfortable to divulge their honest opinions and experiences working at a company. Analyze the attrition data you possess and look for patterns. Are there certain managers whose teams have higher or lower attrition rates? Are there particular roles or teams that face this issue more often than others? What makes that difference?
Unsurprisingly, the research shows that women have less access to the “people and opportunities that advance careers.” One thing SheTek can provide to women in technology positions is both sponsorship and mentorship. A sponsoring relationship provides public and private endorsements, encouraging and enabling career advancement, whereas a mentoring relationship provides advice, strategies and networking, and instills “increased confidence”. Sponsorship generally takes place at senior levels within an organization and plays a huge role in getting to higher level and executive positions.
Did you know that only 1 in 5 senior executives is a woman? There is a severe lack of role models, sponsors, and access for those coming up the ranks. These issues can lead to a higher level of female attrition. Through our extensive network, we can connect women at lower levels with women who have senior roles. By forming meaningful relationships with women in high level positions, you can have someone that advocates for you and helps with career advancements. While mentors are important, women also need someone who looks out for them even after they have learned advanced skills. SheTek can help you form relationships that go beyond a simple mentor-mentee relationship. These connections last for a lifetime – something women in technology need.
Companies need to analyze their workforce and focus on retaining their female employees. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Meanwhile, women in technology need to focus on themselves and create a network of support. In order to advance, it is crucial that you have people who care for you at a personal and professional level. SheTek can be the first step to building this community. We can help in every step of the process, from learning the material, finding a mentor, getting a job, to advancing to senior positions. In an upcoming blog, we’ll discuss on how to reduce women attrition through pay equity and department environments.