CEO of Actus, Lucinda Carney recently facilitated a session on why women leave tech jobs at the Women of Silicon Roundabout Conference. The interactive session received an excellent turnout of 200 delegates was highly insightful. Lucinda was shocked and gained real insight as to why the statistics for women staying in tech jobs is so poor. Combined with her own pre-facilitation research, Lucinda has summarised the four key themes revealed.
Research conducted by the Centre For Talent and Innovation, found that females did not feel they had the opportunities that their male counterparts did within tech jobs. Furthermore, women were less likely to be given a role that their male counterparts applied for. They were also not invited to apply for similar jobs.
The theme of unfair treatment was discussed at the conference and Lucinda believes the responsibility partly lies with Senior Managers. Senior Managers are asked who should be selected for certain jobs and Lucinda believes them to have an inherent bias. She further argues they may just not know how good certain people are. This may be as a result of their managers not promoting them or them not putting themselves forward. As a result, the status quo is only reinforced. Lucinda believes that using a system that reduces bias can further provide greater visibility of the selection.
Lucinda coined the term ‘Subordinate Bias’ during the Conference, to describe how women felt they were treated. This subordinate treatment takes the form of ‘glue jobs’ – menial tasks that are seen as women’s work. An example being – ‘you’re the only female in the meeting, could you take the minutes?’. This could be taking away from professional development opportunities or the chance to be seen in a more elevated light. It is not surprising that women would want to leave tech roles for a more rewarding role in sure circumstances. A job in a different industry could present much greater opportunities for there professional development.
Another theme that came up was the lack of role models or mentors in the tech space. One woman at the conference pointed out that even women that became female role models were in the minority and could not mentor every woman in the business. So we have to look towards men too. Putting the onus on one female role model will break her eventually.
The final was the poor delivery of feedback leading to women leaving tech roles. Women reported gender differences in feedback, where a woman would be perceived as ‘a bit aggressive’ during a meeting that a man was considered only ‘a bit assertive’.
Reports were made that during appraisals valued judgements or the over-portraying of a woman’s feminity were made over her professional capabilities. Of course, the role of the manager is never a simple one. To get around these often innate, unconscious perceptions, training is required.
So these are the four themes that came up as a result of the research findings and open discussion that took place at the tech Conference. However, it was not all doom and gloom. Women shared a number of inspiring stories, praising tech firms for helping them to develop their careers.
Lucinda points to four areas which could help tech firms to stop women from leaving tech jobs.
Giving women the self-confidence to say no to ‘glue jobs’ and to find an appropriate response for them to kindly not do the activity or push back. Also training managers on how to give quality feedback so that it isn’t taken as a personal criticism.
By pairing people up within the workplace and allowing them to build a relationship, perhaps via regular one-to-ones. This gives people the opportunity to interact where they would normally not do and we can all learn from each other in this way. Pairing people up that are different, that don’t think in the same way and allowing them to share their challenges in the workplace can allow for real insight and knowledge sharing.
So that women do not feel like they are being given ‘glue jobs’, meetings should be chared and roles rotated during meetings.
An idea from a lady present at the Conference was to have one or a couple of ‘pals’ or work friends that act as allies on your behalf, that can shout about your successes where you may feel too embarrassed to do so and in turn may help others see your value.
This blog was inspired by The HR Uprising Podcast hosted by Lucinda Carney. You can listen to the podcast via this link. Alternatively, if you would like more information about how to manage talent more generally within your organisation, why not take a look at our white paper ‘How to develop a Talent Management Strategy‘.
You can find out more about Lucinda’s session at the Women of Silicon Roundabout Conference by reading this blog https://www.europeanwomenintech.com/blog/why-are-women-leaving-technology-jobs