How to balance maternity and work in technology

May 29, 2021

“Diversity, creativity, and innovation go together.” These are words by Sigal Shaked, the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Datomize, a Tel Aviv-based company that helps drive machine learning models regarding the role of women in technology.

In that regard, a research study by the National Center for Women and Information Technology of the United States showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies created initiatives to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them more effectively, retain them for longer, and allow them to advance. But is it enough?

In fact, for working mothers, challenges are even more significant, given that, at the same time, they care for and help their children. It is known that mothers are less likely to be hired, interviewed, and promoted in their careers. 

Challenges to be faced

The pandemic has shown that working has had a considerable cost, in particular, for mothers. Even in other countries, the result could be the same. On that point, Girls in Tech, a non-profit international organization that works to bridge the gender gap in technology, adds to the devastating effect of COVID-19 on women working in technology.

In that regard, Dana Sumpter, an Associate Professor of Organization Theory and Management at Graziadio Business School, and Mona Zanhour, an Associate Professor of Management and Human Resources at California State University, recommend some ways for managers to ensure that mothers may continue working during the pandemic and afterward: provide certainty and clarity, correct the labor expectations, and continue showing empathy, among others.

How to empower women who are mothers

  • Provide certainties: Anxiety and job insecurity have increased stress. Therefore, the leader must clearly communicate the labor expectations and performance standards as well as which decisions are being taken and why.
  • Adjust expectations: Blurring the borders between the family and professional life of mothers requires rethinking the work dynamics. The understanding by bosses raises the commitment of the team.
  • Continue acting with empathy: Managers should proactively ask their employees what they need, how they feel, and if they are comfortable with their jobs. Showing vulnerability and compassion in the workplace promotes more cooperation and less rotation.
  • Balancing work and family responsibilities is essential in any decent work schedule. For instance, a compressed workweek or a shorter workday may reduce exhaustion. Managers could allow their employees to work according to their possibilities.
  • Readjust roles: In a predominantly male environment, Edie Ashton, IT Principal of Carlyle Group, affirms that the world of technology has evolved a lot and that there are several functions for which no deep technical knowledge is required and which are mainly focused on being familiarized with the business strategy and with the challenges that technology solutions may help resolve. They are more compatible when balancing welfare, maternity, and work. 
  • Implement equal paternal leaves: In Switzerland, for instance, the leave for fathers is mandatory. It is one of the keys to achieving more equality in the workplace to attain social co-responsibility for caring tasks.

(Sources: Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and CIPPEC)

In line with these suggestions, Allison Robinson, founder of The Mom Project, a project born in Chicago that connects women from all over the world, states: “I am disrupting the workplace for moms so that we don’t have to choose between our families and our careers never again. The initiative arises from understanding that mothers have a lot to offer, but workplaces were not designed thinking on them.” Therefore, The Mom Project is changing how women work and redefining professional structures by providing them with real job opportunities. 

In the United States, 43% of women leave their jobs after becoming mothers. This initiative seeks to revert the trend by generating a market (a platform of 400.000 mothers). This kind of digital talent community connects professional women with companies worldwide that understand the added value and experiences that these profiles contribute to the companies, with the firm belief that diversity in perspectives is essential to promote businesses.

With these evident results, it is clear that women should not have to decide between making advances in their careers or becoming mothers. It may seem a crucial decision, but it should not be so. Finally, it is necessary to continue working at company and policy levels to achieve a natural balance that includes equality in opportunities.

At Globant, a purpose-driven organization, we aim to create positive change by focusing on Diversity and Inclusion, both essential to our business’s success and leading us toward innovation and reinvention. Read more about our initiative to promote women in tech.

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Diversity, equity and inclusion are key to our business. Technology requires us to innovate constantly, and we can only achieve this if we bring together different points of view. Some of the areas we are working on include focusing on improving gender equality in our industry, inclusive hiring practices, and helping people to achieve a work-life balance.