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If the women in your company aren’t thriving, your business isn’t either

Jackie Molina, a tech leader who helps businesses upgrade their digital payments capabilities, was a rising star at her company, where she led an agile team of developers. She strung together one career success after another rising from auditing technology projects to advising business owners on tech products in just six years. She embraced every opportunity to deepen her skills, taking advantage of corporate leadership training programs in public speaking, people management, and business topics.

Then Molina suffered a series of personal tragedies. In the space of nine months, she had a miscarriage and lost her grandfather, father-in-law, and a close family member. With a toddler at home, Molina felt she needed to focus on her family and couldn’t take on any new responsibilities at work for a while.

It’s at a time like this that many high-potential women fall off the career track. As primary caregivers and nurturers, they are forced to choose between work and family. If they choose family, the career opportunities often disappear—a phenomenon that the pandemic has hastened. An often-cited McKinsey & Company study suggests that the COVID-19 crisis could set women back a decade professionally.

The issues are even more acute for women in tech like Molina. According to a study by Accenture and Girls Who Code, almost 50% of women in tech who are under the age of 35 will leave within five years.

Why are they going? Nearly 40% of the study’s respondents cited company culture. Just as concerning, only 8% of women of color said it’s easy to thrive in technology jobs. Tech has long been infamous for a “bro culture” that is often not inclusive of— and sometimes actively hostile to—women.

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