Women’s tech careers affected by cost-of-living crisis and pandemic, LTW survey reveals
Over half of women in UK tech jobs said that the pandemic and current economic conditions have adversely affected their careers, according to new data obtained by London Tech Week.
A third of those surveyed in the UK tech sector said that they had not received a promotion for over 24 months and two thirds added that mental health issues have affected their career.
The data, obtained by London Tech Week, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, is taken from a network of women visionaries addressing the underrepresentation of women in tech.
Respondents said women have missed out on work opportunities, were forced to scale down work and take time off to care for children, as well as undertaking more household chores during the pandemic and economically challenging times.
Yet, according to the survey, while women experience gender bias in the tech sector, overall, unemployment in the tech ecosystem does not (yet) reflect the mass lay-offs that big tech firms have undertaken in recent months.
Only 2% of tech worker respondents were made redundant in the last 24 months while 11% are now working full time following a period of unemployment.
A further 16% are now working full time when they used to work part time, illustrating how job roles are changing.
Working more than one job has also becoming increasingly common – 15% revealed they used to be self-employed or own a business but have now taken another job while running their business.
Barriers to entry
According to the survey, women are light years away from achieving equality when it comes to obtaining funding.
Having a greater amount of women-focused business events and awards is perceived as one of the most powerful initiatives which has helped women-led start-ups get better access funding over the last 24 months. This is closely followed by more women in tech being championed in the press (55%).
Yet 42% of respondents complained that it was difficult for women to secure a pay rise in tech, while 38% said it was more difficult for women to achieve senior leadership or board positions.
Respondents also stated that a skills shortage was the biggest obstacle to women entering the sector (68%) and limited access to STEM (64%) jobs was also proving a problem.
The cost-of-living conundrum
The cost-of-living crisis and the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women in the workplace isn’t helping either, the study urged.
Almost half (43%) believe women are more likely than men to have been denied access to financial support from governments while a further 43% perceive women as shouldering most of the burden of childcare or care of other dependants in their households while juggling work responsibilities.
So what can be done?
According to the study, better visibility and promotion of STEM career opportunities would help more women break into and thrive in the tech industry. This would also achieve more gender equity with their male counterparts in the sector (39% of respondents revealed) as well as more equal pay between genders (38%) and better flexible work opportunities (37%).
Laura Stebbing, CEO at EQL:HER at London Tech Week’s conference said: “There is still lots more to be done. Women for example are far behind men when it comes to investment in women led startups. Gender disparity needs to be addressed from a systemic level.
“Supporting women at just one level is not going to solve the problems. We need to be looking at early-stage solutions including better investment in STEM, high profile women in tech being visible to young people and better access to skills programmes.
“It can’t be just one of these interventions, it needs to be all of them. Society shapes stereotypes and creates biases that we need to address well before women even enter the workforce.”
Tessa Clarke, London Tech Week ambassador and founder of Olio, added that if there’s one industry that should be leading in terms of gender parity, it’s tech.
“That’s because the tech industry has the tools to enable flexible and autonomous working, it has the dynamism and relative youth to make change more easily, and it naturally attracts the visionaries and disruptors who don’t tend to be happy with the status quo,” she said.
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