Half of young women who go into tech jobs leave by age 35, according to a report out Tuesday from IT consulting firm Accenture and tech education organization Girls Who Code.
The primary reason? Noninclusive company culture. Thirty-seven percent of respondents who said they’d left the industry listed this as their reason for leaving.
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The study, called Resetting Tech Culture, gathered information from 1,990 tech workers and 500 senior human resources leaders in companies employing people in technology jobs. It also gathered info from 2,700 college students.
This type of attrition, the report says, is a blow to an industry that’s already struggling with a lack of diversity, with the proportion of women actually declining in the last three decades.
“[Women] have actually fallen further behind at the very moment when tech roles are surging and vital to the U.S. economy and its continued leadership around the globe,” the report says.
The study comes at a time when tech companies have faced increased scrutiny over the demographic imbalances in their workforces. Big names like Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and others release diversity reports every year showing incremental progress. Despite investing time, money and PR into corporate diversity efforts, tech companies like Uber are still plagued with reports of workplace discrimination and the like.
The report also comes as more than 30,000 women are expected to gather virtually this week for the Grace Hopper Celebration, a 20-year-running conference devoted to supporting women in technology.
Accenture and Girls Who Code also found that a disparity exists between how senior HR leaders at companies and women themselves perceive the situation. Forty-five percent of these HR respondents said it’s “easy for women to thrive in tech.” For women, that percentage is 21, and it drops even lower, to 8 percent, for women of color. Fewer than half of HR leaders (38%) think that building a more inclusive culture is an effective way to retain and advance women.
The study does offer some strategies to beat the trends and create more-inclusive cultures. This includes setting external goals; encouraging all parents to take parental leave; and providing mentors, sponsors and employee-resource networks.
By the report’s projections, if all companies could score as well in inclusion as the top performing 20% of firms, there could be an up-to-70% drop in attrition.
“If this were to happen, we could see up to 3 million young women working in tech in 2030, 1.4 million more than there will be if current trends continue,” the report said.