Nearly half of women working in technology believe that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have delayed their career progress, even though a similar percentage believe much-needed gender equality is more likely to be achieved through the implementation of remote work, shows a Kaspersky analysis.
While life during the pandemic has been highlighted as a possible accelerator for equal opportunities for women and men in terms of IT functions, persistent prejudices have hindered this potential period of discovery. It was generally anticipated that the restrictions imposed by the pandemic would lead to a positive shift in the IT industry in the fight for gender equality. By eliminating differences in social and family planning, traditional stereotypes about availability and longevity could also have been eliminated when it comes to women’s careers. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated companies’ decisions or even forced them to adopt this new rule overnight, and to some extent this prediction has accelerated things positively, in terms of the overall mentality of the industry.
Kaspersky’s new Women in Tech report, entitled Where are we now? Understanding the evolution of women in technology, found that almost a third of women working in the technology industry really prefer to work from home than from the office. A similar percentage say that they work much more efficiently when working from home and up to 33% revealed that they have more autonomy when not working in an office.
However, more information in this report highlighted that the possibility of choosing the remote work system for women in technology is not exactly equal to social progress in this “work from home” dynamic. Nearly half of women working in IT have struggled to manage work and family life since March 2020 – a variable that is very significant in North America, but which is a consistent trend worldwide.
If we go a little deeper, the reasons for this imbalance become clearer. When respondents were asked about daily tasks that affect productivity or work progress, 60% said they did most of the activities related to house cleaning, compared to 47% of men. 63% were responsible for home schooling, compared to 52% of men, and 54% of women had to change their work schedule more than their male partner to take care of the family. As a result, 50% of women believe that the effects of COVID-19 have actually hampered their overall career progression.
“The impact of the pandemic was largely different for women than men. Some appreciated the higher level of flexibility and lack of commuting between work and home, while others said they were on the verge of exhaustion. It is extremely important for organisations to ensure that their managers know the strategy implemented at the company level to support employees with care responsibilities.”
“The other significant trend accelerated by the pandemic is the coexistence of employees who work remotely with those who work in hybrid mode, within the same organisation. This can be a challenge for women who work remotely, as they may interact less with management members who work from offices, potentially reducing their chances of being considered for the type of complex tasks that underlie promotions within the company. Employers must be aware of these disadvantages and plan the company’s activity accordingly, to minimise them”, comments Dr. Patricia Gestoso, Head of Scientific Customer Support at BIOVIA, winner of the Women in Software Changemakers 2020 and prominent member of the professional network for women, Ada’s List.
Although these examples of social inequalities are not specific to the field of technology, they indicate a barrier that prevents women from taking advantage of last year’s transition to long-distance work. Up to 41% of women in IT (compared to 34% of men) believe that an equal work environment would be best for career advancement, and 46% believe that long-distance work is an optimal way to achieve this equality. The technology sector must now capitalise on its experience in the pandemic, hoping that social stereotypes will allow this direction to continue in the coming months and years.
Merici Vinton, co-founder and CEO of Ada’s List, adds: “Companies need to signal, both culturally and politically, that they will give working parents, both women and men, the flexibility they need during the COVID pandemic. Companies need to understand that the way they are represented matters and that having women at the helm, teams in which the majority is represented by women, and public interviews given by women, shows that there is room for women in their company. Finally, we see a lot of successful companies partnering with external women’s organisations that can challenge you, push you forward, and also provide external inspiration to your employees”.
“If the technology sector takes the lead and provides a more flexible and balanced environment for women, then it will soon become the norm, and perhaps trigger a change in social dynamics. As always, this will not happen overnight, but there are signs that women are more daring to rightly request this way of working. In the future, as an industry, we must build on this progress, extract the positive things from last year’s changes towards flexible work and, as a result, be a catalyst for wider social change,” concludes Evgeniya Naumova, Vice President of Global Sales Network and Kaspersky.
Original article from Start-up Cafe available here
The survey was conducted online and had 13,000 respondents from 19 countries: United Kingdom (1,000 respondents), Germany (1,000 respondents), France (1,000 respondents), Italy (1,000 respondents), Spain (1,000 respondents) , USA (1,000 respondents), Canada (1,000 respondents), Argentina (500 respondents), Brazil (500 respondents), Chile (500 respondents), Colombia (500 respondents), Mexico (500 respondents), Peru (500 respondents), Australia (500 respondents), India (500 respondents), Japan (500 respondents), Malaysia (500 respondents), Singapore (500 respondents) and Vietnam (500 respondents).