Women in Tech

The Motherhood Penalty: partnership launched as nearly 40% of women leave tech

22nd January 2024
Sheryl Miles

Research by the Tech Talent Charter reveals that nearly 40% of women departing from tech roles cite caring responsibilities as a key factor.

This has spurred a collaborative campaign by the Tech Talent Charter and MotherBoard Charter to improve maternity retention in the sector.

A significant concern highlighted is the work-life balance, particularly for parents balancing careers and full-time care duties. The joint effort aims to mitigate the impact of the 'motherhood penalty', a term coined by the partnership, on the tech industry's capability to retain female talent.

Despite its reputation for innovation, the tech sector struggles with retaining female employees. Notably, 50% of women exit the tech industry by the age of 35, aligning with childbearing years, and a further 25% transition to different sectors. Addressing motherhood-related challenges is crucial for fostering a more inclusive and gender-balanced environment in tech.

The organisations advocate ten pivotal steps for businesses to counteract the penalty. These include flexible working arrangements and enhancing women's career progression. Implementing these measures is believed to cultivate a supportive environment for working mothers, aiding in retaining female talent in tech.

Alex Ford, President, North America, at Encompass Corporation, emphasises the necessity for progress in maternity policies to maintain female tech talent. She advocates for supportive maternity leave policies, offering time, space, and guidance for women to balance family growth with career advancement. Ford also highlights the importance of work-from-home and work-from-anywhere models to facilitate mothers' return to the workplace.

Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer of FDM Group, underscores the crucial role women play in the tech industry's future. She points out the disadvantage maternity leave poses for skilled female employees. Flavell stresses the need for supportive return-to-work policies and training for returners, which not only boosts retention but also provides inspirational role models for the next generation, challenging stereotypes and breaking barriers in maternity leave.

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