The tech industry has long been regarded as a male-dominated field, with women struggling to break through the glass ceiling and secure leadership roles in the industry. Unfortunately, when it comes to layoffs during economic downturns, women are often hit the hardest. Tech layoffs hurt women more for a variety of reasons, from bias and discrimination to the types of roles that women are often employed in.
In this article, we will explore the gender gap in tech layoffs, why it occurs, and what can be done to address it.
The gender gap in tech layoffs
When economic downturns occur, companies are forced to make tough decisions, including cutting jobs to stay afloat. Unfortunately, women are often more vulnerable to job loss during these times. According to a report by the National Women’s Law Center, women accounted for 55% of job losses during the 2008 recession, despite only comprising 49% of the workforce at the time.
In the tech industry, the gender gap in layoffs is even more pronounced. A study by the Kapor Center found that women are significantly more likely than men to lose their jobs in tech during economic downturns. In fact, women make up a disproportionate number of those who have been laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study found that women in tech are 1.2 times more likely to be laid off than men.
Why do tech layoffs hurt women more?
There are several reasons why tech layoffs hurt women more than men. One reason is that women are often concentrated in certain roles that are more likely to be affected by layoffs. For example, women are more likely to be employed in administrative and support roles, often the first to cut during downturns. Women are also more likely to work part-time or in contract positions, which are more vulnerable to layoffs.
Another reason why tech layoffs hurt women more is that bias and discrimination are still prevalent in the industry. Studies have shown that women are less likely to be promoted or hired into tech leadership roles, making them more vulnerable to layoffs. Women of colour are even more likely to experience bias and discrimination, further exacerbating the gender gap in tech layoffs.
What can be done to address the gender gap in tech layoffs?
To address the gender gap in tech layoffs, companies must take proactive steps to eliminate bias and discrimination in the workplace. This includes implementing diversity and inclusion programs, offering unconscious bias training to employees, and ensuring that women and people of colour are represented in leadership roles.
Companies can also take steps to support their female employees during economic downturns. This includes offering flexible work arrangements, training and development opportunities, and support for mental health and wellness.
In addition, policymakers can play a role in addressing the gender gap in tech layoffs. This includes implementing policies supporting workforce women, such as paid parental leave, affordable childcare, and equal pay laws.
Tech layoffs hurt women more, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We can create a more equitable and inclusive tech industry by addressing bias and discrimination in the workplace, providing support for female employees, and implementing policies that support women in the workforce. Only then can we ensure that women are not disproportionately affected by economic downturns and can contribute their skills and talents to the industry on an equal footing with their male counterparts.