We already knew that the technology sector lacks diversity. And it would be an understatement to say that women don’t like the culture within the IT branch. It is therefore that especially women with a different ethnical background leave this industry voluntarily –well, at least in the US.

Tech Leavers Study

This is shown by Kapor Center’s study ‘Tech Leavers Study‘ (2017). It is the first national study in the US to the most important reason why professionals voluntarily quit their IT jobs. The Kapor Center for Social Impact and Harris Poll surveyed a nationally representative sample of over 2.000 U.S. adults who left their job in a technology-related industry or function within the past three years.

Professional from all backgrounds cited unfairness more than any other factor as key to their decision to leaver their job. But not only women in this branch cited this factor as main reason, also men did. Further, one out of ten women reported experiencing unwanted sexual attention, and LBGT (lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender) employees were most likely to be bullied and experience public humiliation or embarrassment.

A toxic workplace culture

Over 75% of the surveyed sample reported experiencing some form of unfair behaviour or treatment. It is remarkable that women experienced and observed significantly more unfair treatment than men. Besides, unfair behaviour or treatment is reported more in tech-industries than in non-tech industries. Kapor Center calls the American tech-industry’s culture therefore a toxic workplace culture.

But not only women seem to deal with this ‘toxic culture’. Also, underrepresented IT employees of colour experienced stereotyping; twice the rate of White and Asian men and women. Thereby, almost one-third of women of colour were passed over for promotion.

Furthermore, the research states that stereotyping and bullying was negatively related to the length of employment. This hold, the more stereotyping and bullying experienced, the shorter the length of time that an employee remained at his/her previous employer.

Change equals staying

Of the surveyed tech leavers 57% said that they would have stayed at the company if their employer would have addressed the workplace environment and changed the culture to a more fair and inclusive one. And 62% would have stayed if their company had taken steps to create a more positive and respectful work environment.

Also, companies where diversity and inclusion initiatives are in place, employees experience unfair behaviour and treatment significantly lower. Thereby, employees are less likely to leave due to feeling mistreated.

Why women leave

The most heard reason for women to leave an IT-organisation was because they got a new and better offer (33%), followed by wanting out of an unfair work environment (32%). For women with a different ethnical background the latter was the main reason to leave their job (37%), while for White and Asian women ‘just’ 28%.

We think that women leaving the tech-industry is not just a US problem but also a Dutch problem, and it might even be a world problem. What do you think?



This blog is based on this (Dutch) post published by AG connect.