The presenter summarized and interpreted the results of 3 prestigious studies about why women in technology has a staggering 52% attrition rate. She also has some recommendations for what companies can do to help combat the attrition.
First, the presenter showed a few reasons why retention is an important issue to address:
- SET growth is 5x other fields
- demand outstripping supply, IT supply shrinking
- fewer visas since 2001
- emerging economies - 75% Chinese students go home vs. 20% in prior years
- baby boom retirements
- highly trained, expensive to replace
Of those leaving (or considering leaving), here are some reasons they cited:
- extreme job pressure - hours, stress, health
- culture not woman-friendly
- feel career is stalled
- lack career paths, sponsors, mentors, role models
- feel isolated
Lastly, here are some things she recommended to help with retention:
- 10% female management: culture change from the top, less isolation, more role models
- flexible workday and career track timing
- career paths, mentors, and sponsors
- opportunities for altruism
- on-ramps for women who left for a few years to come back
One interesting thing to note is that when comparing boomers to GenX's to GenY's, we are seeing a decline in whether they feel they have barriers in their career. Now whether that's because the younger folks haven't gotten to a point where they feel they can't advance, or if the environment is actually shifting to promote more young women to stay in SET industry, I don't know. It is encouraging finding nonetheless.
That's the end of my Grace Hopper adventure! You can read about all the sessions I attended and blogged about here.