Can the Gig Economy Help Alleviate the Shortage of Women in Tech?

By Alisia Genzler, Executive Vice President

Findings in The Rise of the Agile Worker, a recently conducted study on the future of work by Randstad USA, indicate that companies are committed more than ever to building an agile workforce model. Three-quarters (76 percent) of companies use some sort of agile worker today, and on average, these might represent 30 percent of the companies’ workforce. In addition, 52 percent of C-suite executives said that by 2025 their organizations will be much more committed to building an agile workforce. 
 
 
The results of this trend, by reshaping the way we might think about what a “career” means, can be unsettling to some workers while appealing to others. For example, some women who seek IT jobs also seek flexibility in order to care for children, a parent or other family obligations. An increasingly agile workforce could mean a larger proportion of women in the total IT workforce and mitigate some of the reasons women cite for leaving their jobs. Not everyone is going to be excited to embrace the gig economy, but for women in tech who want to work but need flexibility, it might be an opportunity.

According to the graph below, “computer and mathematics,” which includes IT, is the only STEM occupation category that has seen a percentage reduction of women in the field from 1990.

A study conducted by the Anita Borg Institute found a 50 percent decline in representation of women technologists between entry and executive level positions. They surveyed 1,000 women who had left their jobs in engineering and found the following:

  • 30 percent cited working conditions, including no advancement, too many hours, and a low salary.
  • 27 percent wanted more time with their family.
  • 22 percent didn’t like the work or daily tasks or had lost interest in the work.
  • 17 percent didn’t like the culture, their boss, or their coworkers.

The gig economy creates options for women to address a number of the issues they cite for leaving their tech jobs:

  • Agile workers don’t have traditional career paths, so advancement isn’t measured by position in an organizational hierarchy, but by other measures such as being able to select assignments or compensation level.
  • Work/life balance can be improved, as women agile workers are more able to determine their level of involvement and, to a large degree, control their own work schedules.
  • Many agile workers will have the freedom to choose the types of projects they work on, thereby avoiding projects and tasks they find mundane or uninteresting.
  • Women technologists working as agile workers have more of a voice in selecting the types of companies for whom they want to work. If they don’t like the culture or their supervisor, they can refuse to work for that company if another opportunity arises.

The gig economy is no panacea, and the degree of flexibility one has might vary greatly depending on individual circumstances, but for some women agile workers with highly sought after technical and soft skills, this workplace transition could be the difference between staying in and leaving the workforce.

You can access more of the findings in The Rise of the Agile Worker study here.

Alisia Genzler is Randstad Technologies’ executive vice president of southeast, responsible for the success of 23 branch offices located throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Prior to this role, she served as the Regional Vice President of the Northeast for Technisource — holding that position since 2007.

About Randstad Technologies: For more than 30 years, Randstad Technologies has been connecting top companies around the world to expert technology talent. Our deep industry expertise and broad range of full-service capabilities — Recruitment, Consulting, Projects and Outsourcing — enable organizations to be agile, productive and ahead in the field with our wide network of specialists and flexible solutions. Randstad Technologies was recognized with Inavero’s 2017 Best of Staffing® Talent Satisfaction Award, and for the fourth consecutive year, the company received Inavero’s Best of Staffing® Client Satisfaction Award. For more information, visit www.randstadtechnologies.com.

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