Finding ways to tackle the declining number of women in technology is a hot topic both online and offline right now.
Data shows there are smaller numbers of women choosing to study computer science and related STEM fields. And many argue it’s gender bias as technology companies with male-centric cultures hire more males over females regardless of aptitude and skills.
Another issue facing the industry is that many women in technology are more likely to leave the industry after having children. According to a report from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, as many as 56% of women leave tech jobs in droves mid-career, which is almost double that of men.
Why is this happening?
When children come into the mix, priorities often change. Family time becomes far more important and work flexibility becomes a necessity in order to maintain a healthy family dynamic. Often women want to continue with their chosen field of work when they have children, but find it difficult to keep up with a demanding job in a traditional 9-5-office setting.
Regardless of the many perks tech companies can offer its employees to make the office more alluring – Ping-Pong tables, chill out areas, catered lunches - these things may not appeal to a working mother. Lengthy commute times, inflexible work schedules, and longer work days can undermine family life and long hours spent away from children can cause distress.
So what can be done to keep more career mums in the tech industry?
Remote work arrangements could be the solution to keep women in technology roles.
Remote work allows people to work in a location-independent capacity and work from wherever they can be the most productive. This is usually working from home, but can also mean working from a coffee shop, co-working space or anywhere that has decent Internet access.
For mothers, working remotely can give them the flexibility they need to cope with the demands of children. Most importantly, it allows women to continue to advance in their chosen field rather than slow their career progression at this stage of life.
A remote job means the valuable time wasted on long commutes can be better spent catering to the needs of family. It can also provide greater schedule flexibility, allowing working moms to attend events and appointments with their children or be more readily available on days when children are unwell.
Companies benefit from remote work arrangements, too
Better work-life harmony
Quite simply, remote work provides better work-life harmony. Women become happier workers, and happier workers are more productive workers.
Companies with remote-friendly workplaces focus on results and output rather than how many hours a staff member is physically in the office. They realize there is no direct correlation between the amount of time spent in an office and productivity levels. Managers don’t need to clock-watch or micromanage their staff and cloud-based technologies make virtual communication, task management, and time tracking so much easier.
Statistics collated by Global Workplace Analytics provide a compelling case in favor of employers embracing a remote-friendly workplace. A poll of 1500 technology professionals revealed that 37% would take a pay cut of 10% if they could work remotely from home. Remote work is seen as a perk.
Losing a valued employee can cost a company between $10,000 and $30,000 USD. Recruiting and training a new hire costs thousands. 95% of employers surveyed by Global Workplace Analytics said remote work had a positive impact on employee retention.
Remote work widens the playing field.
A remote workforce means companies can attract a global pool of highly skilled and talented women, not limiting their workforce to people living within a 20 mile radius of their office.
Tech companies like Buffer, Automattic, Zapier, Groove, Basecamp and Invision, just to name a few, are already embracing a remote work culture and allowing people to live and work from wherever they are happiest. These companies employ a diverse mix of men and women in distributed remote teams. And it’s not uncommon to see perks such as annual retreats, extended family leave and unlimited vacation time.
Remote work just makes sense on so many levels and can have a positive impact on women in technology everywhere trying to juggle work and raising a family. As more companies adopt this flexible model of working, there is no doubt the technology industry will become a far more attractive career choice for women.