Women In Internet Technology Speak Up

According to a recent report from HewlettePackard Insights, with contributing writer Barbara Krasnoff, "…the single largest driver of turnover affecting all groups, and most acutely affects underrepresented professionals, is unfair treatment…”  and the Harris Poll reported that women of all backgrounds "…experienced and observed significantly more unfair treatment overall than men…”

A 2015 report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology said that 56% of women leave the tech workforce at the midlevel point. These women are not just leaving to raise families or because they lost interest in tech. In fact, the study found that the majority of women who leave specifically technical jobs stay in the workforce and half of them continue to use their technical skills in their new professions.

But how about the 44% who stay in tech jobs, asks the report. What are their employers doing right that many other companies seem to be doing wrong? Not surprisingly, says the report, a major key to these companies’ success is simply understanding that employees, both men and women, have lives outside the workplace.

Rachel Happe, co-founder and principal of the Community Roundtable, promoting social and community engagement, founded the company when she got tired of working for firms that failed to allow for any kind of personal life. “There wasn’t any overt discrimination she says, but there was only one female director, because the lifestyle was impossible to maintain if you wanted a family.”

Flexibility in working hours is one of the things that Dina Golden, a software engineer, likes about her current job, says the report. “Some people work 7 to 3, others 11 to 7. Working from home is possible when needed… “

Golden believes that her company can provide this flexibility because of good planning. “…the (work) process is carefully planned out so there are (practically) never last-minute fires that require one to stay late…” Golden also praises her employer’s mandatory harassment training, employee perks such as an onsite cafeteria, and new parent leave for both genders, which staff are encouraged to take, says the report.

Duygu (DJ) Yapar is an interim team leader at Ultimate Software, a Florida company where women comprised 49% of the total workforce as of August 2016, 42% of them in leadership positions. Yapar credits a company program called Women in Leadership for her current role. “I was encouraged to attend the program,” she says, “and then after I started attending, they encouraged me to take a leadership position, and then they gave me one.”

Most of the women interviewed agreed that keeping women comfortable in the workplace is a matter of treating them, says the report, and their male colleagues as people rather than cogs in an IT machine. Jenny, who works in IT infrastructure for a large Australian government department, explains that she doesn't "have to consider whether I will be ignored simply because I’m a woman… “

“… it is expected and accepted that men will equally take time off for family reasons, apart from medical reasons, for women getting time off for the actual childbirth, then it's a win-win,” Jenny says. In the end, though, it’s up to the employees to decide whether the company meets their needs. The women interviewed in the study who have found good organizations to work for agree that if you find an organization that feels like a good fit, then go for it.

If a company doesn't have an opening for you, keep trying, concludes Yapar. For example, she found her current position at Fortune’s 100 Best Workplaces for Women, and says “… it’s been a better experience than I expected…”

The report notes that job seekers must remember that working for a company should be a win-win situation. “… people don’t ask enough questions,” concludes the report. “…If they’re not going to support you because of these factors in your life, that’s eventually going to cause you stress… (and) not going to be a great fit for you…”

For more complete information within the report, please visit here.


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