During COVID you can have kids or a career but you can’t have both…
During COVID you can have kids or a career but you can’t have both…

Posted on Jul 23rd, 2020 by Beckie

This was just one of the depressing headlines we’ve spotted on social media over recent weeks when after nearly four months of lockdown and #newnormal we should be doing everything possible to help people feel secure and empowered in their careers - and by people, we obviously mean women because that’s who the headlines are aimed at.

A rather less inflammatory (but still ultimately the same message) headline in a recent Guardian article suggests UK Society is regressing to 1950s for many women as the Coronavirus pandemic threatens to derail women’s careers.

Research at the University of Sussex has shown that 72% of women described themselves as the default carer for children during the pandemic whilst, 70% said they were completely or mostly responsible for homeschooling. The impact of school closures has clearly hit families hard, having to absorb months of unpaid work into their homes at the expense of careers and participation in work life and anyone who spotted the Sky News interview with expert Deborah Haynes son interrupting on live tv to request a biscuit - an interview which was swiftly cut off by the male host got a very public glimpse of this reality.

Tale as old as time...

For me, this is a very familiar story and one which reminds me of ‘our why’ and the reason we started Tech Returners, having taken maternity leave after the birth of my son. I returned to my own tech career, finding a lack of support which impacted my confidence and ultimately led to the same question women are once again being forced to ask right now - ‘Can I have a career and a family? How can I do both?'. My son Ethan undoubtedly was the catalyst and inspiration for the beginning of Tech Returners and continues to be a constant source of motivation to keep making a difference for women and returners just like me.

So what about those returners? Well, 88% of our returners are women, and the majority found access to programmes like ours and employers who recognise their skills in spite of a career break were the main barriers stopping them from returning to a career in tech - so what makes it possible?

Forward-thinking businesses

Well, it’s not just us, we’re part of the journey of course but it’s also about the businesses we work with who are modern, forward-thinking, adaptable and diverse and who are realistic about the fact that people actually have lives outside of their ‘career’. We’ve been fortunate to work with many businesses like this - where this is the norm and not the exception.

We’ve been fortunate to work with many businesses like this - where this is the norm and not the exception. But for every business like this, there is another ten, probably expecting the same performance right now from their employees that they always got, despite a worldwide pandemic and children at home 24/7. These are also likely the employers expecting the Dads to continue as if their kids are not there and as a result, it’s these businesses that are quietly damaging the careers of thousands of women and reversing the hard work of so many.

If you’re a business keen to make a change and empower careers back into technology, let’s talk.