A recent ariticle, Why women quit technology careers, by Kathleen Melymuka relays some startling research from this month’s Harvard Business Review. Women, between the ages of 25 and 30 are excelling in the science, engineering and technology fields making up 41% of the young talent with related credentials. Unfortunately, 52% of this talent drops out, most significantly between the ages of 35 and 40, which relates to approximately one million well qualified women. Not only are women leaving technology and science companies but they are leaving the field all together.
Most startling is one of the main factors attributed to this significant dropout; sexual harassment! 63% of women in science, engineering and technology have experienced sexual harassment! This 2008 study included private-sector employers in the U.S., three large global companies with women working across the world, focus groups in Australia, Shanghai and Moscow and all data was consistent. Appartently India is a little better than the U.S., but there was little variation found around the globe.
An average 71 hour work week in the tech industry including emergencies and a very family-unfriendly atmosphere also presented a serious work-life issue to women balancing children and a career. Although women often take a brief break from their careers, in many fields 100% will try to get back into the industry at a later date. In the technology and science industry only 60% say they would be willing to give it another try if conditions were right.
Several high profile companies, (Cisco Sytems Inc., Intel Corp., Johnson & Johnson and General Electirc Co.) that were involved in this research project are experimenting with programs to change the pattern of the female exodus from IT and have implemented some promising initiatives.