Want to Increase Gender Diversity? Encourage Flexible Schedules

In order to truly get the diverse teams we are looking for, we need to pivot on our definition of success, and reward part-time work. Perhaps especially for Men.

Success isn't working 50 hour weeks. Success is making a meaningful contribution at work, and then coming home to dinner with the kids, grandparents, or others in your community. It is also the freedom to schedule an exercise "meeting" with yourself every day (The fact that I have had to disguise healthy activity as a meeting, is in itself, ridiculous).

One of the biggest problems is that most good jobs are full-time, or more than full time. When one person in a family works full-time, the other takes up the "slack" (again, calling child/elder care slacking is also ridiculous). If we really want more women in leadership roles, you have to be able to let the men work part-time. In fact, this also applies to same-sex partners.

Having quality time in the afternoon with my kids is important to me, and of course, the kids too. It's not much of a relationship when all you are doing is hurrying the kids out in the morning, trying to get them to eat dinner, and getting them to bed.

And part-time work can't just be "inessential". Everyone wants to be able to do their best at the job, and make a significant contribution. Part-time work should have no impact on an individuals' chances for a leadership role.

According to Bright Horizon's Modern Family Index survey of parents:

  • 77% won't speak up about work-life balance
  • 68% won't speak up about feeling burnt-out
  • 56% of working parents aren’t happy at their current job
  • 98% percent of working parents say they’ve experienced burnout
  • Nearly two-thirds (62%) of working parents feel their employer simply doesn’t care about them

These are some pretty terrible feelings for a lot of people, and obviously something needs to change in our workplace culture. Truly valuing part-time work would be a great first step.

Even though part time work brings increased productivity for employers and the economy, it has some drawbacks for the people doing it. How can we fix this?

  • Provide equal benefits for part-time workers, including health insurance, sick leave, and holiday pay
  • Provide training and advancement opportunities for part-time workers
  • Encourage more part-time work for men as well as something that is normal and accepted to do

I'd love to know your ideas on how we can support more gender diversity in tech. Let me know in the comments below.

Ivan Storck

Web Developer, Teacher, Entrepreneur. Co-founder of Sustainable Websites, Code Fellows, and Aerobatic. Ivan lives in Seattle and enjoys paddling his SUP, spending time with family, and traveling.