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Coronavirus is hurting women in tech

by Nellie Peyton | @nelliepeyton | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 13 May 2020 17:15 GMT

A woman prepares to board a Leap private bus during the company's debut in San Francisco, California March 18, 2015. Leap, designed to ease commuting, currently offers riders service from the Marina District to downtown. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

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The gender gap in the tech industry could increase due to COVID-19

Millions have lost jobs due to COVID-19 around the world, but in the technology industry women seem to be taking a bigger hit.

A survey of over 700 tech professionals conducted by software review company TrustRadius found women were more likely to be laid off and felt more pressure than men to be productive.

Why it matters: Women are already under-represented in the tech industry, which has been traditionally dominated by men.

A 2016 report by the global consultancy McKinsey found women made up 37% of entry-level roles in technology, and only one in four senior management roles.

By the numbers: Based on the survey of tech professionals by TrustRadius:

  • 8% of women were laid-off or furloughed, compared to 5% of men
  • 40% of women reported increased pressure to be productive, compared to 31% of men
  • 59% of women reported increased familial duties, compared to 50% of men

At the same time, men also had it harder in some areas. For example:

  • 51% of men said they were working overtime, compared to 45% of women

The big picture: The survey reflects broader studies showing that women are more likely to be laid off than men across industries.

Some experts say this is because women are more likely to fill entry-level roles, which are the jobs that are first to be cut.

The same is true for people of color, who have also been laid off at high rates.

Isn't tech doing ok though? At a time of record unemployment, tech companies are far less impacted than other businesses requiring face-to-face interactions like travel and hospitality. Many tech firm employees are able to work from home. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey emailed employees on Tuesday telling them that they’d be allowed to work from home permanently, even after the coronavirus pandemic lockdown passes

What’s next? Boosting gender equality was a key theme at major tech conferences in 2019 where company executives pledged to train staff in unconscious bias, delete sex from CVs, have women on all shortlists and improve maternity rights. A key question is how staff at those companies will react if those pledges aren’t delivered on in 2020.

Learn more:

Will coronavirus make the gender pay gap worse? 

U.S. progress on women's equality seen slowing as pay gains stall