COVID-19 has brought immense and sudden changes to all of our lives. Millions of people around the globe have felt the impact of job losses, economic downturn, school closures, social isolation and adjusting to all kinds of new normal in daily work and personal lives.
We’ve explored the ways the pandemic has impacted women in tech, as well as how the pandemic may cause the gender gap in tech to widen.
A report by Tech Radius has looked into the impact of the pandemic on women in tech. Its findings revealed that 5% of male tech professionals have been laid off due to the pandemic, compared to 8% of female tech professionals losing their jobs. This disappointing statistic could be due to multiple factors but the most likely reason is that women still have less seniority than men in many tech companies and the pandemic has further highlighted the problem.
The report also looked into the impact of school closures on women in tech and how much of an impact the childcare burden was felt by women in tech compared to men. The data revealed that women were 1.5 times more likely to feel a greater childcare burden than men. 72% of women reported feeling greater childcare burden compared to 53% of men, and whilst its clear men certainly weren’t exempt or unaffected by childcare burdens, women were ultimately more affected. For women, the pandemic has brought forth the age-old dilemma of balancing childcare with work, and it’s done so in a sudden and uncompromising way.
The sudden and unexpected nature of the pandemic has caused an upsurge in people suffering from poor mental health as a direct result of the uncertainty. Mental health is a non-discriminatory issue that has impacted people regardless of gender, age, race etc. However, there’s emerging evidence suggesting that the added pressures many women have of childcare and work, as well as the pressure to keep up a high level of performance in their work so as to not get laid off, is resulting in an increase in poor mental health amongst women compared to the general population. Statistics from The Mental Health Foundation that looked into the mental health experiences of people during coronavirus and lockdown, in particular, have suggested that 58% of women experienced an increase in anxiety levels compared to 39% of men.
The pandemic has impacted people regardless of gender, however, it has highlighted deep-rooted gender-related inequalities that were there long before COVID-19. The gender gap in tech has been highlighted as a result of the ratio of men to women losing work. The perpetual work-life balance negotiation women have been trying to negotiate for years has been made even harder because all of a sudden they are expected to turn their homes into an office and also a homeschool. For those who have sadly lost their jobs, they are having to try to find work whilst also navigating childcare and homeschooling. As the world starts to recover from the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, it’s more important now than ever that employers and organisations have their fingers on the pulse of the issue of the gender gap in tech. They need to ensure that rather than losing sight of diversity and inclusion as a priority that it remains a core focus so we don’t go backwards in the fight for gender equality in tech.
To read more about how the upsurge in remote working due to COVID-19 may help narrow the gender gap, click here.