Women in tech are being forced out of work by the ‘motherhood penalty’

Asian mother working from home on laptop while little daughter is watching on digital tablet
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Nearly half of women in the UK tech sector have left the industry due to conflicts with caring commitments, according to research from Tech Talent Charter. 

Analysis from the industry body found 40% said care responsibilities were a “decisive factor” in their decision to leave the industry, highlighting one of the additional hurdles faced by women in the sector versus their male counterparts.

Many women in tech are forced to juggle careers and care responsibilities, the study found, and work-life balance for workers now ranks among the most important considerations at present.

The research from Tech Talent Charter has prompted the group to join forces with MotherBoard Charter to address what they term ‘maternity retention’ in the tech sector.

Around 50% of women leave tech by age 35, according to previous research.

The organizations have called for businesses to take action to address retention rates for women in tech, including the introduction of flexible working arrangements and a heightened focus on supporting career development.

Tech Talent Charter said that efforts to improve policies on both these fronts “will create an environment that supports working mothers and helps (sic) to retain valuable talent in the UK tech industry.”.

Women who have flexible working arrangements were found to have significantly higher retention rates than those who don’t, according to Tech Talent Charter.

“These findings emphasize the damage that the 'motherhood penalty' … has on the tech industry and its ability to keep women working within it.”

‘Motherhood penalty’ shows tech industry still has diversity problem

Alex Ford, president for North America at digital identity software provider Encompass Corporation, said the research from Tech Talent Charter shows there’s still much work to be done to support female tech workers across the country.

Ford said the technology sector has not been a “great example when it comes to promoting and encouraging diversity in recent years”, and urged organizations to improve maternity policies.

“A supportive maternity leave policy, allowing time, space, and guidance, enables women to grow their family and career in parallel, which is invaluable,” she said.


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“Every mother should receive a high level of care from their organization and the opportunity to nurture their home life while reaching their professional goals.”

Sheila Flavell CBE, COO of FDM Group, echoed Ford’s sentiment, adding that well-publicized talent shortages mean the need to retain vital staff should be top of mind for firms across the country.

"Organizations must emphasize supportive return to work policies and provide training to help returners bridge their transition back to the workplace,” Flavell commented.

“This not only boosts retention in the industry but provides outstanding role models for the younger generation setting out on their careers, acting as an inspiration to remove stereotypes.”

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

For news pitches, you can contact Ross at ross.kelly@futurenet.com, or on Twitter and LinkedIn.