New research suggests women in technology have experienced significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the last year, women in technology have endured higher burnout rates than men and more personal stress at home. They’ve also had to deal with changes in the ever-evolving industry to meet demand.
How COVID-19 Impacted Women in Technology
Girls in Tech released a 2021 study that demonstrated women in technology experienced a high rate of burnout, especially if they had male bosses.
“The results from our study were abundantly clear: women in technology are burned out from COVID and organizations must recognize this is at crisis-level,” said Adriana Gascoigne, Founder and CEO of Girls in Tech in a press release, “We were particularly stunned to learn the impact a supervisor’s gender has on women’s burnout rate.”
Many women who commonly experienced high burnout were working from home instead of in the office. Furthermore, 78% of working moms found it difficult to juggle both work at home and personal responsibilities.
As a result of high burnout, Girls in Tech has issued a call to action, demanding that tech companies have at least 50% of women in corporate-level positions by December 31, 2024. According to research conducted by S&P Global Ratings, which analyzed 1,280 technology companies in the world, women accounted for 16.6% of the board.
The Girls in Tech letter also states that including more women in boardrooms can promote true diversity and improve work conditions for women and underrepresented communities.
Challenges at Home
Many technology companies implemented changes early on in the COVID-19 pandemic to promote work from home. While working from home can result in more productivity, it also presents new problems to employees.
According to the TrustRadius 2021 Women in Tech Report, women experienced greater personal challenges during the pandemic, such as bearing the responsibility of children’s care and household duties.
The TrustRadius report found that 42% of women in technology took on most of the household work during the pandemic. Meanwhile, only 11% of men said they took on the burden of household work.
An article from the New York Times found that due to these responsibilities, 1.2 million parents left the workforce. Of those who left their jobs, 900,000 were women.
The COVID-19 pandemic radically changed the way people worked, putting greater attention and emphasis on digital and online technology.
Some major companies like Amazon, Home Depot, and IBM, have provided upskilling and reskilling programs to help workers adapt to changes. However, some companies have reduced these opportunities due to the pandemic. According to the State of Skills 2021: Endangered by Degreed, nearly half of workers reported that their employers have decreased these offerings during the pandemic.
Furthermore, the burden has also been placed on employees to adapt to these new changes and take time out of their schedules to learn new skills. New students and people pursuing fields in technology also have to be prepared for these changes as well.
Supporting Women in Technology During COVID-19 and Beyond
Research has also provided several methods to help female tech workers who have been impacted by COVID-19. Below are a few examples of how companies can support women and address the growing challenges they face.
Flexible Work Schedules
Flexible work schedules can minimize challenges at home and provide a more realistic schedule for parents. They can find times that work better for them to perform tasks while juggling personal responsibilities throughout the day. It can also provide a clearer distinction between working from home and living at home.
The 2021 Kaspersky Women in Tech Report found a third of females believe that limited mentorship or role models are inhibiting their careers. The Trustradius report shares similar findings. The report stated 72% of women want mentorship opportunities to help guide them through their careers.
Offering mentorship programs allows women to see a path for success. It also encourages women to pursue certain roles and reframe their experiences of workplace culture.
In the U.S., companies are only required to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for family or medical reasons through the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Paid maternity and paternity leave relieves the heavy burden parents often face. It also shoulders the responsibility fairly between both men and women and provides flexibility.
What Women in Technology Can Do to Address Challenges
Women in technology can also do their part in addressing challenges that have resulted as a part of the COVID-19 pandemic.
First and foremost, women tech workers need to communicate challenges to company managers. Communicating feelings of burnout or challenges at home is the first step to creating a solution. Managers can rearrange workloads or make changes that can address these dilemmas.
Women in technology can also look for opportunities to further their advancement. They can attend a conference, join associations, or seek programs to build new skills. They can also cultivate new connections with potential mentors and fellow peers.
Sophia Acevedo is a journalist based in Southern California. She is a 2020 graduate from California State University, Fullerton, and a proud Daily Titan alum.