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Opportunities in STEM Q4 2023

Why women are leaving tech careers — and how to keep them

iStock / Getty Images Plus / SeventyFour

Karen Blake

Co Chief Executive Officer, Tech Talent Charter

Tech careers are some of the most exciting areas of impact, innovation and earning potential in today’s job market. UK tech jobs are estimated to pay between 60% and 80% higher salaries than average jobs.1

The tech industry also has a reputation for leaning into the latest and most innovative workplace practices that benefit both employers and their workers, with higher use of remote working practices.

Women leaving tech jobs

However, despite the benefits of tech careers, the tech industry skews heavily towards men; just 28% of the UK tech workforce is estimated to be women. More concerningly, a whopping one in three women are planning to leave their tech jobs.2,3

Tech Talent Charter (TTC) undertook research earlier this year, with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology to understand why women leave tech jobs. By learning what we can do to improve diversity in tech, we can supercharge the tech talent pipeline and the digital skills gap — which costs the UK an estimated £63 billion in lost GDP.

In tech roles, you always need
to be developing your skills.

Tech training and career development

Four out of five women who left a tech role agreed that dissatisfaction with their career development had an impact on their decision. In tech roles, you always need to be developing your skills.

While some companies leave their employees to manage and fund their professional development independently, many are taking a more active role in developing their employees’ skills. A study from TTC Signatory, NTT Data, found that more than half of businesses have launched skills initiatives for both new and existing employees.

Flexible working is non-negotiable

The tech industry is one of the most flexible sectors to work in, with nearly half of employees having the ability to work remotely as much as they like.4 However, just having a flexible work policy is not enough; women reported that if they worked part-time, their careers stalled.

By using policies like ‘fair work allocation,’ companies can ensure flexible working is part of a great work culture, especially for those who don’t do an in-office nine-to-five job. Ultimately, women in tech who had more flexibility and control over their work were more likely to stay in their roles.5

By leaning into flexible and inclusive work practices, and focusing on the vital role of ongoing training, we can ensure that STEM innovation benefits all in society to fuel the UK’s growth in the long term.

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