top of page

Why Women Aren’t Staying in Tech and How to Create Environments That Retain Them

Despite increased awareness and initiatives around gender diversity in technology, the technology industry continues struggling to retain women in its workforce. The statistics are stark and revealing: the share of women working in tech is lower now than it was nearly four decades ago, with just 32% in 2023 compared to 35% in 1984.

Furthermore, women occupy only 28% of tech leadership roles, half of the women in tech roles leave by age 35, and 32% are often the only women in their work environment. Alarmingly, in 2022, all-women startup teams received a meager 1.9% of venture capital funding. 

This sharply contrasts the increasing emphasis on gender diversity and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives, with 145 Fortune 500 companies proactively releasing reports on these issues.

The question remains: Why are women not staying in tech despite these efforts, and how can we create environments that not only attract but also retain women in technology?


The Root Causes of Attrition

  • The Broken Rung: The significant decline in the number of women holding leadership roles in the tech industry plays a crucial role in shaping company culture and policies. The scarcity of female representation in senior positions creates environments less attuned to the specific needs of women in tech.

Contrary to the popular belief in a “glass ceiling” that prevents women from reaching senior leadership positions, the most substantial barrier women face is often at the initial step up to a managerial role, known as the “broken rung.”

This phenomenon leads to many women remaining at the entry-level, with fewer progressing to managerial roles. Consequently, this results in a drastically reduced pool of women eligible for higher-level advancement. Achieving gender parity across all levels necessitates addressing this broken rung.

Key data underscores the challenges women face in climbing the corporate ladder. Women are less likely to be hired and promoted to manager: for every 100 men who are promoted and hired as managers, only 72 women receive the same opportunity.

Additionally, men occupy 62% of manager-level positions, while women hold a mere 38%, with the number of women diminishing at each higher tier in the corporate hierarchy. Interestingly, only one third of companies set gender representation targets for entry-level managerial roles, compared to 41% for senior management levels.

  • Cultural and Social Barriers: Many women in tech find themselves as the only female in the room, leading to a sense of isolation and exclusion. This scenario is exacerbated by a persistent “bro culture” that prevails in many tech companies, making it difficult for women to feel included and valued.

  • Work-Life Balance Challenges: Tech roles often demand long hours and high levels of commitment, which can be particularly challenging for women, who still disproportionately shoulder family and caregiving responsibilities. The lack of flexible work arrangements and supportive policies for work-life balance further compounds this issue.

  • Gender Pay Gap and Funding Disparities: The continuing gender pay gap in tech roles and the stark disparity in funding for women-led startups are clear indicators of systemic undervaluation of women’s contributions in the tech industry.


Strategies for Retention

To address these challenges, it’s imperative to shift the focus from merely attracting women to technology to creating environments where they can thrive and choose to stay. This involves a multi-faceted approach:

  • Increase Female Representation in Leadership: Companies need to actively work towards increasing the number of women in leadership roles. This can be achieved through targeted hiring practices, mentorship programs, and career development opportunities specifically designed for women.

  • Cultivate an Inclusive Culture: Building a culture that genuinely values diversity and inclusion is crucial. This involves regular training and awareness programs, addressing unconscious biases, and creating policies that actively combat discrimination and harassment.

  • Support Work-Life Integration: Implementing flexible work policies, providing childcare support, and recognizing the need for a balanced approach to work and personal life are critical in retaining women in tech roles. This support should be extended to all employees, fostering an environment of understanding and accommodation for different life stages and responsibilities.

  • Close the Gender Pay Gap and Support Women Entrepreneurs: Ensuring that women are paid equitably for their work and increasing access to funding for women-led startups are essential steps in valuing and supporting women in the tech industry.

  • Foster Community and Networking: Creating networks and communities where women can connect, share experiences, and support each other is vital. This can be facilitated through internal women’s networks, mentorship programs, and partnerships with external women-in-tech organizations. This can also be done by women who support women and cooperate in success versus competing for success.

  • Focus on Continuous Learning and Development: Opportunities for upskilling and reskilling can help women advance in their careers and adapt to the evolving demands of the tech industry. This also sends a clear message that the company is invested in their long-term growth and success.

  • Promote Success Stories: Highlighting and celebrating the achievements of women in tech can inspire others and reinforce the message that their contributions are valued and recognized.

At the End of the Day

Retaining women in technology is more than just a matter of fulfilling diversity quotas or enhancing corporate image. It’s about recognizing and leveraging the unique perspectives and skills that women bring to the table, which are essential for driving innovation and success in the tech industry.

The focus must shift from mere recruitment to creating supportive, inclusive, and equitable environments where women are encouraged to grow, lead, and thrive. As we move forward, it’s crucial for tech companies to not only talk about diversity and inclusion but embed these values into the fabric of their organizational culture. Only then can we see a significant change in the retention rates of women in technology and ensure a diverse and dynamic future for the industry.



Single Post: Blog_Single_Post_Widget
bottom of page