We don’t usually write about other people’s tip list articles, because for the most part they aren’t very good. But Forbes’ has a very good one out today which is well worth reading. Writer Juliet de Baubigny uses a well known phenomenon first observed in 2008 called the Athena Factor as a springboard to address some of the issues facing women working in tech.
The Athena Factor was a report which highlighted the amazing attrition rate for women in tech over time. At its most basic interpretation, it states that there are plenty of women who are interested in a career in tech at a young age, the fallout rate from the industry by the time they are 34 is enormous.
“If young women and those of us in the industry who support them realized what happens to push women off their career paths, we might be able to forestall some of those departures,” writes de Baubigny.
So if you’re a young women entering the tech industry, what can you do to avoid being an Athena stat? The precised version of de Baubigny’s advice is:
• If you have the luxury of choice, opt for more demanding work that will allow you to earn more income and get a better job at a better company. If you want to continue working after you have children, you need sufficient growth in your career early.
• Look for people and places that will support you, and don’t wait until you’re pregnant. Can you call in to a meeting? Will the CEO mind if your phone rings during a face-to-face (we all try to avoid this, but it will happen)? What are the maternity policies like?
• Be wary of working part-time. No one … who takes on part-time status actually works much less. Part-time status cuts your responsibility and pay, but not necessarily the time you spend working.• Also know the risks of taking off more than a few months at a time. Women who leave their careers for a year or more need to understand how hard it is to come back to the workforce.
• Recognise that your career is valuable.
Of course, the Athena report (which is published annually) is based on research and observations from the US, so the numbers and advice may not directly transfer to South Africa. That’s something we’re going to look into over the next few weeks.
de Baubigny also focuses very closely on family matters – there are lots of other reason that women leave the tech industry, including lower wages than men, less opportunity for promotion and blatant sexism in many firms. Again, something we’re going to look in to more over the coming weeks.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts. Does de Baubigny’s advice hold true here?
[Source – Forbes, Image – Shutterstock]