Mid-Level Accelerator


By Paris Fawcett

Let’s talk about the mid-level talent gap. Half of all women in tech leave the industry before they’re 35 and of all those who continue to work in the sector, only 5% will ever hold leadership positions. Something is preventing women from progressing and thriving in tech and we set out to discover what it is.

In August 2023, Code First Girls surveyed over 1,400 women in our community – including many in mid-level positions – to find out exactly what unleashes developer velocity within them for the good of their entire organisation. The full findings and insights from this survey were released in our “Progressing Women in Technology” report which is available for free download here.

Here are the top 10 takeaways from the report, packed with recommendations for businesses wanting to create an environment where women can reach their full potential.

1.It’s time to tackle retention 

Almost half of the mid-level women surveyed said that they couldn’t see themselves staying in the industry for the next five years, and when we asked them to rate their job satisfaction on a scale of 0-10, the average answer was only 5.26. Because of this dissatisfaction, many women are leaving the industry prematurely.

However, research shows that those who do advance past the mid-management level tend to thrive and lead happy careers.

2.Time lost due to parenthood affects women far more than men

Unlike their male counterparts, parenthood is often the point where women lose career momentum. Research conducted by That Works For Me found that less than a quarter of women go back to working full-time after having children, while there’s also a 32% reduction in women in managerial roles after starting a family due to inflexible working opportunities. 

Organisations can support parents by offering flexibility at every stage of an employee’s career, considering part-time or job-sharing arrangements to enable both mothers and fathers to continue to develop their careers.

3.Women are not being given equal or enough opportunities to work on promotable projects

In a report published by the Harvard Business Review, it was found that women are 48% more likely to volunteer for non-promotable work compared to men in projects such as mentoring new team members, filling in for a colleague, or taking on routine administrative work. 

Research suggests that women often adopt the role of unofficial lead but not a “technical superstar” on projects, taking on tasks such as writing documents, improving team processes, mentoring and coaching, and establishing coding standards. Employers should ensure that this valuable “glue work” is recognised and spread evenly across teams, while also creating more opportunities for promotable work for all employees.

4.Upskilling is essential for keeping your female workforce happy

70% of women surveyed believe that upskilling is the best way for companies to support and retain women in tech teams,  yet only 38% had been given opportunities to diversify their skillset.

Providing upskilling opportunities for women not only enhances their skillsets but also helps organisations to unlock software excellence and optimum productivity across entire teams.

5.Women are far more susceptible to layoffs than their male counterparts

A recent analysis by Layoffs.fyi found women in Europe accounted for 41.6% of recent tech job cuts, despite them making up just over a third of the workforce. This trend continues elsewhere too as in the US – between October 2022 and June 2023 – women in tech made up 45% of redundancies across the industry despite only accounting for 28% of the tech workforce. 

These trends raise concerns about gender equality in tech, questioning why women are viewed as more expendable or less promotable than men.

6.Burnout affects women disproportionately to men

Burnout is a significant issue for mid-level women in tech, with 81% of our mid-level community experiencing it. 47% stated that unfair treatment was the cause of their burnout, with 20% also saying that it is the prevalence of burnout that will cause them to leave the sector altogether.

Some causes of this included unmanageable workloads, juggling competing priorities between work and home and being judged on different standards to their male colleagues. Implementing flexible working policies can help reduce burnout and make the workplace more sustainable for female colleagues.

7.The average half-life of skills is now five years and falling

The skills crisis in tech isn’t going away. In some tech fields, the average half-life of skills is at five years and quickly falls due to the rise of new technologies such as AI.  

The global industry needs to get a grip on how it evolves the workforce of the future. But in those plans, there’s a need to address the stark imbalance of opportunity for women in tech. Their talent is being squandered before they’re ever really given a chance.

8.Women are less likely to apply for a role where they don’t fit 100% of the criteria

Self-confidence and the belief that they are capable of securing a job role is disproportionately holding women back. When surveyed, a third of mid-level career women say they haven’t applied for a role where they didn’t have all of the levels of required experience. Likewise, a recent report found men will apply for a job if they meet just 60% of the job description, whereas women will ensure they have 100%. 

Organisations can instil a sense of self-confidence in their female employees by equipping them with the skills, mentors, flexibility, and support that they need will build confidence and empower them to progress. Moreover, focusing on capability hiring rather than minimum requirements will encourage women to put themselves forward for opportunities.

9.Role models are essential for staff retention

The scarcity of women in senior positions means that mid and entry-level employees often don’t have role model figures to aspire towards. Offering mentorship in the workplace is essential for supporting women’s career progression, with 66.8% of our community stating that providing mentorship in the workplace was essential. 

Men can also play an important role in this by showing allyship, promoting a healthy work-life balance and acting as a mentor figure to their colleagues. 

10.The concept of leadership is changing

With a revolution in work-life culture occurring, the concept of leadership is changing. Soft skills are becoming more important than technical skills as employees look for team leaders to have emotional intelligence and great communication skills. 

There’s often a disconnect between the type of culture managers think they have created and what women experience on the ground. Accenture found that while 68% of leaders feel they have created “empowering environments where people have a sense of belonging”, only 36% of employees agreed. By hiring more managers who can empathise with and understand the needs of their employees, retention and progression strategies are likely to be prioritised for the workforce.

If you’re a tech employer, you can read the full report (with all of our top recommendations) at the link here.

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