We already know the number of women in tech is woefully low. Now the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to push those stats further in the wrong direction.
A new survey of 2,620 global respondents conducted by AnitaB.org—the first in a series of studies to track the pandemic’s evolving impact on technical women over time—shows exactly how female technologists are faring and what they’re most concerned about as we collectively move through this crisis.
Among the key findings from the report:
- 46% of women in tech say they’re worried about losing their job.
- 22% say layoffs and furloughs are already happening, and an additional 44% say they’re concerned it will happen soon.
- 43% of all women technologists and 57% of underrepresented minority women technologists believe that if they were laid off it would be hard to find a new job.
- 32% report their workload increased, and 36% say they’re essential workers who must go on-site to do their jobs.
In addition to the increased workload, those who are able to work from home are reporting that they’re doing an average of 9 hours a week more of domestic labor. Those with kids say they’re adding another 17 hours of domestic work per week. And women in tech who are underrepresented minorities are clocking an additional 25 hours of unpaid labor in the home. One survey respondent put it this way: “I went from one job to multiple full-time jobs.” No wonder the majority (52%) are reporting a decline in mental health.
The report observes that disasters have historically had a “disproportionately negative impact on women, and technical women, especially students and underrepresented ones, are feeling the brunt.” Data from Pew Social Trends indicates that, indeed, the economic recovery from the last recession disproportionately favored men—even in sectors that tend to employ more women, such as education and health services.
“During times of economic downturn, many companies cut back on their efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, jeopardizing the already low representation of women in technology,” the report’s authors write. “Representation and retention of diverse women in technology are critical to ensuring that technology is focused on the needs of all people.”