Why can’t tech companies retain women?

How can companies transform their work culture?

Women in tech leave the field twice as often as men.  Women report more stereotyping, hostility, and feelings of not belonging – even after 40 years of awareness.

Learn

Understand our perspective and findings gleaned from our deep dive research into the work lives of women in tech and the literature.

Try

Try our tested interventions, practi al techniques for onboarding new hires, work practices, interpersonal dynamics, and nudging change.

Manage

Shift how you manage diverse teams. Get the benefits of diversity to produce innovative results while women thrive.

For over 40 years, we’ve been encouraging women to choose technology careers. But even with extensive recruiting, women continue to be underrepresented in technology jobs compared to other professions. Worse, once hired, women leave the field mid-career twice as often as men. High tech needs women to fulfil necessary jobs and to increase innovation—and they know it. It’s time for a new approach focused on retention.

In 2013, recognizing the problem, Karen Holtzblatt launched The WIT Retention Project (now the non-profit WITops) dedicated to understanding what helps women thrive in technology jobs. In 2014, Nicola Marsden joined the effort, bringing her extensive knowledge of the impact of gender and bias on women’s experience and how it plays out in the workplace. Together with worldwide volunteers these teams identified what helps women thrive and what practical interventions can make a difference to retention.

In this book, we introduce these findings and interventions as well as our perspective of the challenges facing women in technology work. All the research and solutions are based on deep research and user-centered ideation techniques. We describe the @Work Experience Framework, the key factors that help women thrive: A dynamic valuing team, stimulating projects, the push into challenges with support, local role models, non-judgmental flexibility to manage home/work balance and personal power. These factors help companies understand what they have to pay attention to retain diverse teams: Employees “thinking of leaving their job” have significantly lower scores on these factors showing their importance for retention.

We then describe the Critical Intervention Points gleaned from data from over 1,000 people worldwide to help organizations know where to focus interventions. We describe our tested solutions: Onboarding new hires into their team; critique techniques; managing interpersonal dynamics, conflict, and individual style; matching characteristics and skills for the best diverse team; key manager tools; awareness techniques; nudging professional behavior through small changes to existing processes; and the role of games. For each intervention area we share relevant literature, our research, and our perspective. Throughout the book, we focus on understanding the issues and developing practical solutions that individuals, teams, and companies can try.