We’ve all heard about The Great Resignation of 2021, when the national “quit rate” reached a 20-year high in November. But did you know that women were the ones leading this change?

In some cases, women leaving their jobs in 2020 and 2021 was a product of the pandemic. From February to April of 2020, women’s participation in the workforce fell to its lowest level since 1985, a historic regression. The rising costs and risks of sending children out of the home for daycare, as well as the closure of many schools and childcare centers for social distancing, meant women staying home was more economically sensible for many families.

But in the tech industry specifically, a lack of equality culture is causing women to get burnt out, fed up, and pursue roles where they feel more welcomed and appreciated.

What are the exact problems causing women to leave tech? And how can employers stop the losses? Let’s answer these questions through exploring the available data.

The Great Resignation in the Tech Industry

Wired coined the phrase that in addition to a Great Resignation, tech is also coping with a Great Reconsideration. Allowed to work from home, and with the need for work-life balance highlighted by unprecedented stressors, tech employees have suddenly become aware of the long hours and existential angst that a tech job can bring. As a result, telecommunications, IT, technology, and engineering/quality assurance are all industries where 30% or more of employees are looking for a new job at any given time. Add to this equation the fact that 75% of global IT leaders are already experiencing a skills shortage on their teams, and the seriousness of the situation becomes clear. Most tech companies cannot stand to lose a single talented employee.

Why Do Women Quit Tech?

Women quit tech due to gender bias, pay inequality, and a lack of opportunities for advancement.

  • One in three women in tech experience bias in the workplace, especially affinity bias among men who believe other men are more qualified.
  • 46% say that gender equality is not a priority in their company’s hiring practices. (New View Strategies)
  • 52% of women in tech say their workload has increased during the pandemic. (New View Strategies)
  • 59% of the time, men in tech are paid more than women in an identical role. (Hired)
  • Though women still make up 47% of the workforce, they only hold 28% of the leadership positions in tech, even though both genders seek promotion at the same rates. (BCG)

These statistics underscore and illustrate that tech is an uncomfortable and sometimes unwelcoming industry for women. Despite this, women deliver amazing benefits when their tech employers make it possible. Adding just one woman to the board or senior leadership team correlates to anywhere from an 8 to 13 basis point improvement in return on assets. Firms where 30% of leaders are women achieve a 15% increase in profitability over their less-diverse competitors.

Women quit tech when they are treated like they don’t belong—but when they are welcomed, they make tech even better.

Are There Less Women in Tech to Begin With?

Many employers attempt to excuse their lack of commitment to hiring women in tech, arguing that there are not enough qualified women to hire. Yes, it is true that only 25% of tech graduates are women, and that half of the women who go into tech drop out by age 35. But this is not just the natural way of things, nor is it the responsibility of women to correct the issues that keep them out of tech. When 50% of women share that they have experienced gender discrimination in the tech workplace, compared to just 19% of men, this is a problem with tech, not with women. In fact, the more educated a woman is in tech, the more discrimination she experiences—62% of women in tech with postgraduate degrees reported experiencing gender discrimination.

Putting the burden on women to push through these challenges and persist is not working for tech employers anymore. There is too much demand for talent and women have become aware they deserve better. If tech employers want to address the talent shortage in ways that give them a competitive edge, hiring diverse people, including women, is an essential and obvious step.

Moser Consulting Can Help With Tech Culture

One company cannot fix all the problems with the leaky STEM talent pipeline, but you can reverse the trends in your own organization—and Moser can help. We have been named a Best Place to Work for many years and are proud to have a 98% employee retention rate across all demographics. Our learning services offerings are tailored to each company we serve to strengthen both culture and technical skill set in line with your business goals. Feel free to reach out at any time with questions or to discuss how these trends are impacting your business and what can be done to help.