Did you know that most women in the U.S. become moms? According to numbers compiled by the U.S. Census, 81% of women in the U.S. age 40-44 were moms as of 2010.
In today’s tech-driven economy where cutthroat bidding wars for technical talent are par for the course, wouldn’t it be wonderful to tap into an existing, under-utilized pool of talent that’s already educated and have work experience and are hungry for a chance to skill-up so that they can bring those to bear?
Chances are that women at your company will choose to become moms one day — that is if you don’t already have some on staff. So given all the resources your company has invested in recruiting, training, developing, and retaining your them, not to mention team-building, wouldn’t it be a shame to see your female talent walk out the door, taking their valuable experience with them?
That’s why building a paid internship program for moms who want to on-ramp to roles requiring tech skills makes sense, and below are the top 5 reasons why your company should do it.
1. Moms can ramp-up quickly. Many moms already have years of work experience and a transferable skillset. Many also have a college degree. This means you wouldn’t have to spend time training these super interns on business basics.
2. Moms can help you tap into new markets. Women control 85% of purchasing decisions, with moms alone representing a $2.4 trillion market. (Source: “The top 30 stats you need to know when marketing to women”, The Next Web, Jan 24, 2012.) Yet women are severely under-represented in tech, holding only 26% of computer-related occupations. (Source: “Did You Know: Demographics on Technical Women”, National Center for Women & Information Technology) If you believe that humans are most capable of defining and solving problems that they understand, and that empathy is a critical component of designing effective solutions that are scalable and widely adopted, then having more moms at the table will bring new perspectives and insights that can drive creation of new products and services.
3. Moms can inoculate your from disruption. We all know that group think lends itself to tunnel vision, which makes you vulnerable to disruption from forces you can’t see. Including a diverse set of viewpoints that moms can bring will lead to more creative problem-solving, a fact that’s been substantiated by a body of research, which includes a recent study by MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and Union College linking an increase of women to a group’s effectiveness in solving difficult problems.
4. Moms can enhance your bench strength. Catalyst’s 2004 research found that companies with higher representation of women in senior leadership performed better financially. Yet according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, more than half (56%) of women in technology leave their employers at the mid-level point in their careers (10-20 years). Therefore, helping moms who want to advance into technical roles will help you strengthen and diversify your leadership pipeline for positions that require a technology skill-set. Catalyst also found that a better diversity climate staves off employee attrition by increasing positive perceptions of an organization, which then enhances retention rates for the long-term - a critical component to building internal bench strength overall.
5. Moms can yield great SROI. Creating economic opportunity is one of the most effective ways of making social impact, and studies by the World Bank show that focusing on the development of women yields broad social, political, and economic benefits for everyone, well on into the next generation. So helping moms get the essential work experience they need to on-ramp to technical careers isn’t just good for your bottom line, it’s good for society as a whole.
So go ahead and make your mom proud - build a paid internship program for mothers who want to do tech, and show the world your diversity policy is more than words on a page.
Tina Lee is a mother of two young daughters and founder and CEO of MotherCoders, a non-profit that helps moms on-ramp to technical careers in the new economy. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political, Legal and Economic Analysis, with an emphasis in Economics, and an MBA from Mills College. She also holds an M.A. in Education from the Stanford University Graduate School of Education’s Learning, Design & Technology Program.