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What is causing The wellbeing crisis for women in tech?

Delving into the unique challenges faced by women in the tech industry, everywoman’s collaboration with Bupa sheds light on the pressing issue of wellbeing.

While pioneering, innovative and exciting in many ways, the tech sector also harbours unique stressors and barriers that impact the lives and careers of the women who currently make up 26% of its workforce.[1] Previous studies have laid the groundwork in highlighting the wellbeing crisis experienced by working women. everywoman’s research, a collaboration with Bupa, zeroes in on women working in the technology space, and shines a spotlight on how the fast-paced nature of the industry combines with low female participation to create an environment in which women are struggling to thrive and grow meaningful, rewarding careers. These findings highlight the wellbeing concerns of women in technology roles, and the implications these have for the future talent pipeline. They also uncover the tangible and urgent steps which must be taken to strengthen the talent pipeline and ensure the success of the technology industry.

The technology industry’s fast-paced male domain is accelerating the wellbeing crisis for women. More than three quarters of women in technology (76%) have experience of burnout and varying degrees of sleep deprivation (75%), while 69% are experiencing job dissatisfaction.

This report is more than a compilation of data; it is a narrative of the lived experiences of everywoman’s unique community of women in technology. It speaks to women’s successes, struggles, advancements, setbacks, and solutions, and amplifies the voices that the tech industry needs to listen to if it genuinely wants more diverse talent working in it. It is a call to action for individuals, recruiters, policymakers, network leads, and business leaders to join everywoman in this endeavour, driving forward a culture of inclusivity and respect that benefits everyone in the tech ecosystem.

Wellbeing is a cornerstone in the employment decisions of women working in technology, with 80% considering genuine wellbeing benefits and meaningful support as important. The survey is a deep dive into the wellbeing priorities of women, recognising that physical and mental health are both inextricably linked to job satisfaction, workplace inclusion, career advancement, pay parity, and require investment in the form of learning and development opportunities.

In everywoman’s work as pioneers in the field of advancing women’s careers, they work with numerous forward-looking tech organisations, large and small, who are making significant investment in attracting more women to their organisations in order to reap the well-established benefits of gender balanced teams. Against this backdrop it is more important than ever that organisations understand how they can retain and advance the female talent they’ve worked so hard to attract. The issue of women’s wellbeing concerns must be brought out into the open; this report gives a voice to what those barriers and priorities are for women, so that real change can be made for good.

The top challenges for women in technology

The study uncovers a number of barriers to the wellbeing of women in technology.

Imposter phenomenon and the female role model deficit were identified as the top barriers to women’s success in tech and are intrinsically linked. This underlines the profound psychological impact these issues have on women, leading to self-doubt and a sense of isolation. The deficit of role models particularly hinders women’s access to mentorship and guidance, exacerbating the challenge of navigating an industry in which they are underrepresented, which profoundly impacts wellbeing. The conversation around female role models and imposter feelings is not new, but they remain the top two barriers for the industry’s female talent, highlighting that more must be done.

In addition to the psychological hurdles highlighted above, the report identifies the diverse gender-specific challenges compounding women’s wellbeing. Among these, work-life balance difficulties, lack of workplace inclusivity, and the gender pay gap are critical issues, with 38%, 36%, and 34% of respondents, respectively, citing them. These challenges, coupled with limited advancement opportunities and gender bias in hiring, paint a comprehensive picture of the multifaceted barriers women face in tech. This underscores the urgent need for industry-wide reforms to support and empower women in technology.

Also highlighted in the report as a critical barrier to women’s advancement and wellbeing was the difficulty women have accessing leadership roles due to entrenched biases and a lack of sponsorship—a barrier that becomes more stubborn as women progress up the ladder. This ‘glass ceiling’ effect results in many qualified women being side-lined. Gender bias in hiring, including unconscious bias and stereotyping of women’s technical abilities, further skews opportunities and perpetuates gender imbalances within tech teams.

Additionally, 85% of women over 25 said learning and development was important to their job satisfaction and when contemplating continued employment with a company. Job dissatisfaction was a factor in some degree for 69% of respondents and highlighted ongoing learning as another area of contention, emphasising the importance for tech companies to offer robust leadership and personal development opportunities to support their overall job satisfaction and wellbeing. 

The report shows a need to create a working environment where wellness is a necessity to keep up with the fast paced and relentless rhythm of innovation. Attracting women into technology is no longer enough to address the gender gap if their health, wellbeing, career progression and job satisfaction are disproportionately compromised.

It is vital that women’s wellbeing in the technology industry is supported with a holistic approach. If only around 26% of people working in IT[2] are women and they are burnt out, stressed, unsatisfied in their career advancement and employer support, the industry-wide initiatives to attract women into tech will never be enough on their own to attract diversity and sustain growth.

The partnership with Bupa underscores a shared vision—to create a more inclusive and supportive tech industry that delivers on its responsibility to ensure women are fully supported to unlock their potential, fulfil their ambitions without limits, and develop happy, productive, and long careers.

Maxine Benson MBE, Co-Founder of everywoman:

“Empowering women in tech goes beyond just opening doors; it’s about creating an environment where their wellbeing is prioritised — a necessity if we require our tech workforce to keep up with the relentless pace of innovation. Our mission at everywoman is not just to elevate women’s professional status but to ensure they thrive in every aspect of their work life.

This report highlights a need for urgent interventions to be taken to strengthen the talent pipeline, increase female participation in every job function and sector, and build cultures of diversity and inclusion that are so important to both personal and organisational success. This report is a testament to our commitment to making the tech industry a space where women are not just present, but are also healthy, valued, and fulfilled.”

Yolande Young, Chief Information Security Officer at BGUK:

“Organisations across every sector are digitally evolving at pace – women in tech roles play a critical part in this transformation. Having diverse contributions throughout the tech lifecycle helps us produce technology that meets a broader range of customer needs and drives innovation. We also know that a combination of mental, social and physical pressures can have a tremendous impact on people’s health. Early intervention often leads to better health outcomes, and the findings in this report show the need for more sustainable health and wellbeing support in the workplace to prevent the high levels of burnout that many women in the technology sector are experiencing.

Safe working environments, work-life balance, fair pay and representation, professional development and access to healthcare services are imperative to workplace wellbeing. This will keep talented women in the workplace for longer and encourage those starting their careers to consider technology as a career. This research identifies critical barriers women are facing that can shift the needle on women’s wellbeing for the technology industry more widely.”

Key findings

  • Many women in tech report experiencing significant levels of stress (45%) and anxiety (35%).
  • Senior managers and C-Suite women present with elevated levels of the above, with a greater number saying they suffer a lot from stress (55%), sleep deprivation (39%) and work-life balance issues (44%).
  • Women who have worked in technology for six years plus are more likely to experience elevated levels of stress than those first entering the sector (48% versus 37%).
  • While the number of women at entry level experiencing a lot of stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and struggles with work-life balance are fewer, the range of 32-38% of respondents who say they experience these things ‘a lot’ still gives cause for concern.
  • Only 7% of women said that they do not experience anxiety to any degree, while only 12% said they do not have any issues related to work-life balance, and 17% have no symptoms of burnout or concerns about experiencing burnout in the future.
  • Job dissatisfaction – a significant factor in poor wellbeing—is a factor to some degree for 69% of the respondents, with almost a quarter indicating that it is a significant factor in their wellbeing.
  • For women who have been in the industry for less than two years, job dissatisfaction is at its highest, with 34% of newcomers to the industry expressing the highest rates of dissatisfaction—highlighting the risk of losing the new talent that organisations have often worked hard to attract.
  • Sleep deprivation is a significant issue, with 75% of women saying they experience this to various degrees, with 35% reporting it as a regular issue.

www.everywoman.com/tech-hub/bupa-challenges-and-priorities-for-women-in-tech-roles-report/

[1] Women In Tech Survey (2023)
[2] Women In Tech Survey (2023)

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