The Reality of Dual-Career Couples in Technology by Caroline Simard

After publishing “Climbing the Technical Ladder”),
I have given talks about our findings to several high tech companies. One of
the findings that resonates the most with technical women is our depiction of the
reality of dual-career high-technology couples.



Our data show that women in technology positions are more
than twice as likely as men to be in a dual-career couple. Furthermore, among
partnered high-tech employees in Silicon Valley,
over 60% of women report that their partner also works in high-tech. Along with
that picture, not surprisingly, male respondents are five times more likely to report
that their partner has the primary responsibility of the household/children.


This situation creates a significant discrepancy for
technical women – their work-life reality is fundamentally different than that of
their male peers, with serious consequences on their life choices.


Women and men in dual career technical couples reported on
the juggling act they have to achieve to meet the demands of a globalized work
schedule, where both have to be on frequent late night calls with India and early morning calls with Europe.


In order to retain and advance technical talent, companies need
to acknowledge the reality of dual-career couples, and the implications for
technical women. One of the women we interviewed who had attained a high level
position in technology reflected on her husband’s flexibility as being key to
her success.


What is currently a gender issue could be becoming a
generational issue. We find that the statistical gender difference between men
and women who say their partner has primary responsible for the household and
children disappears for those technical employees under age 30 – however,
technical men under 30 were still less likely to report having a partner who
works full time than women under 30.


In our next few blogs, we will be showcasing companies and
practices that successfully support technical women’s careers and the reality of
dual-career couples.