This March, as many women across the country still grapple with the impact COVID-19 has had upon the workforce within the past year, a new study revealed the devastating effects the pandemic has had on the women in tech workforce.
It comes as no surprise that women in male-dominated careers are already at a stark disadvantage when it comes to securing equal pay and opportunities as their male counterparts. In fact, as we observed Equal Pay Day this month, a day that symbolizes how far into the year women must work in order to earn as much as their male colleagues did the year before, it is as blatantly evident that we are far from making the progress needed to close the gap.
In an effort to shed light on gender disparities that are rampant within the workforce, Girls in Tech, a global nonprofit that works towards erasing the gender gap in tech, conducted a survey among their members nationwide on how they have been coping during the pandemic. The organization released their findings in their 2021 study, “The Tech Workplace for Women in the Pandemic” which unearthed an alarmingly high rate of burnout among working women with male bosses.
According to the data gathered, 63% of participants with male supervisors reported feeling burned out in comparison to the 44% of participants with female supervisors. However, for organizations where the topmost executives are male, even higher rates of burnout were reported by a startling 85% of participants.
According to the data gathered, 63% of participants with male supervisors reported feeling burned out in comparison to the 44% of participants with female supervisors. 
Among those most negatively impacted have been working mothers who often shoulder the brunt of child-rearing and homemaking responsibilities while children are homebound due to COVID-19. As they continuously strive to achieve their ideal work-life balance, 79% of working moms whose children are at home admitting to feeling burned out.
Despite the mental and physical toll women have endured in the tech workforce thus far, the data goes on to show that 76% of full-time employees prefer working remotely in the comfort of their own homes. In fact, many have no intention of returning to the office as COVID restrictions lessen over time. While this can be due to a variety of reasons ranging from comfort to affordability, it raises the question as to whether or not women feel safer working from home.
In this study, approximately 41% of participants reported experiencing racial inequality in their workplace. In addition, 27% of participants admitted to having been sexually harassed while working virtually. Although these numbers are far from surprising, it’s safe to assume these percentages would be significantly higher for women in tech had they returned to the office to work in-person. However, despite the varying ranges of pros and cons women in tech have experienced while working remotely, 93% of participants say they feel lucky to even have a job given the current circumstances.
While the purpose of this study was to reveal gender disparities in the workforce that are hindering women in tech, the results confirm an undeniable reality that male leadership has a significant impact on women’s burnout rate.
For Adriana Gascoigne, Founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, there is far more work to be done beyond presenting this data to the public.
“The results from our study were abundantly clear: women in technology are burned out from COVID and organizations must recognize this is at crisis-level,” stated the CEO. “For this Women’s History Month, we call upon organizations to acknowledge this disparity, dig deeper to better understand the issue, and take real, meaningful action towards positive change.”
In an effort to combat the devastating impact that male leadership, coupled with the effects the pandemic has had on women in the tech workforce, Girls in Tech board members are demanding that changes be made at a boardroom level. The organization’s latest campaign, Half the Board, strives to correct gender parities by demanding that no less than 50% of corporate boardrooms be comprised of women by the year 2025. By increasing the number of women in leadership roles, women throughout all levels can receive support and access the appropriate opportunities and resources needed to prevent burnout in the workforce. While it may seem too far-fetched a dream to some, Gascoigne believes there is ample evidence to support this movement as a necessity if gender parity should ever be achieved within the next few years.
In an open letter to tech leaders across the country, Girls in Tech board members cited a recent survey by McKinsey & Co. which suggests that women possess the leadership skills needed to tackle global challenges at a significantly higher rate than their male counterparts. In addition, women also exhibit more progressive traits for future success such as “intellectual stimulation, participative decision making, people development” and more. Despite all the evidence, women with the skills and education needed to be innovative leaders are not only robbed of the positions needed to make an impact in their field of work but are also being paid far less than male colleagues with the same qualifications.
Women also exhibit more progressive traits for future success such as “intellectual stimulation, participative decision making, people development” and more. 
Fortunately, the organization’s Half the Board movement has been gaining momentum as several new executives have committed to making the pledge to help Girls in Tech end systemic discrimination in tech boardrooms. There is undoubtedly far more work to be done in order to make the progress women should have seen decades ago, but as women continue to help women rise up the ranks of the corporate world, there is new hope that men and women alike will see gender parity be achieved within our lifetimes.


Iman Oubou