February 21, 2017
The stats are staggering …
- 90% of highly qualified women who voluntarily leave the workforce (average of 2.7 years) to raise children say they want to resume their careers, but only 40% successfully secure full-time employment *
- When a woman leaves the workforce, she loses 18% of all her future earnings forever in the 1st year out and 38% after 3 years** – that’s ALL future earnings FOREVER!
After reading those, one might ask – is it worth taking time out of the workforce? Of course, a decision like that is so personal that there’s no “right” answer. A better question to ask is – why is the penalty so high for women who choose to take on the under-appreciated role of family manager? And, what can we do to change it?
A Shining Example
So there I was on a bright, sunny, crisp April day in a coffee shop meeting with a woman who was looking for a job in the IT field. She explained her background as an application developer and how she had a degree in Management Information Systems. She went on to explain how difficult it was for her to find a job within IT after taking 13 years off to raise 3 children. I was impressed with her background, and the fact that she took the initiative to keep her skills sharp while she was busy managing everything at home and volunteering. I made a few suggestions regarding updating her resume and LinkedIn profile and connected her with our recruiting department.
Being an IT consulting firm, I thought we’d be able to help her find a job pretty easily – I was wrong. No one was interested in a person with a career gap. Her story stuck with me and then I began to hear similar stories while at my own children’s school events and through colleagues whose spouses were struggling to re-enter the workforce. As you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve thought of a few people in a similar situation!
How We Decided to Help
I couldn’t let it go and felt determined to find a solution. With the enthusiastic support of our CEO and Chairman of the Board, we decided to do something about it and started a new program called Barriers to Entry. Through this program, we developed a comprehensive training curriculum around the foundational skills in Project Management, including an Agile Certification. And, our specific mission is to utilize the life experience of our participants and help them turn it into a new career opportunity in IT project management.
Who doesn’t know a mom with inherent, top-notch project management skills? The career gap shouldn’t be looked at negatively by a hiring manager, but rather as time spent heavily training in disaster recovery (diaper explosion while out in public), scheduling (planning a child’s birthday party), relationship building (teachers, coaches, babysitters!), negotiation (being in the grocery store half done with your list when your child sees a toy section), conflict resolution (“she’s lookin’ at me, he hit me”)…need I go on!?!
How You Can Help
Here are a few more stats to consider…
- 56% of Professional U.S. jobs are held by women, but only 25% of IT jobs are held by women
- InformationWeek listed Project Management as the #2 tech skill in short supply
There’s a real untapped market here that’s full of highly qualified and skilled individuals that are ready to step up and help address the challenges companies and IT departments are facing today. We’re proud to be able to say that our first group of participants was a combination of not only stay-at-home moms (and dads!), but also included the underemployed and career changers. Our first two cohorts, a total of 20 participants, were successfully deployed at our local clients in project management contract positions. We will be starting a training session in March that will produce another great group of participants ready to show off their skills.
We are humbled and honored by the organizations who have stepped out to be the first to partner with us and help make a difference in our community. And, I hope to have inspired you to want to help also! If you’re interested in partnering with us, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* A study published by the Center for Talent Innovation in 2010
**According to Samantha Ettus, Author of The Pie Life
Posted By: Brandi Will