To Get More Women In Tech, Let Them Work At Home

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Facebook/Power to Fly, Tory Williams PhotographyPower to Fly co-founders Katharine Zaleski (left) and Milena Berry created a site where employers can seek out women interested in working remotely.

The number of women in computing has taken a nosedive, according to the American Association of University Women. In 1990, 35 percent of people in the field were women. Today, it's 26 percent. Female representation in engineering went from 9 percent to only 12 percent in the same period, although women have made big gains in other STEM areas, like biology and chemistry.

It's a problem, because many women miss out on some of the best-paying jobs today and companies lose an enormous pool of talent. There are many reasons, including gender bias in hiring and promotion proven in repeated studies, according to the AAUW, as well as frequent hostile work environments.But another big reason is a lack of flexibility that lets women attend to both family and professional duties. "Women are encountering biases not only based on their gender but issues that might come into play based on their family obligations," Christianne Corbett, a senior researcher with AAUW, told AOL Jobs. According to PewResearchCenter, 51 percent of women surveyed said that "being a working parent has made it more difficult to advance their career." Women are also far more likely to see career interruptions -- including reduced work hours, time off the job, or quitting a job -- because of family obligations.

The lack of flexibility translates into many women avoiding high tech. Two women are trying to address the problem, according to Wired. Katharine Zaleski and Milena Berry created a site called PowerToFly in which employers can advertise that they are looking for experts to work remotely, and women can find the companies that would allow them the flexibility they seek.

So far tens of thousands of women have registered and 700 employers, including such major names as publishers Buzzfeed and Hearst, have listed jobs. According to Zaleski, the companies that have signed up have already begun to see a greater number of job applicants per position and some have been hiring people.

Perhaps the change will make a difference. At least women wouldn't need to present a nanny's letter of excuse to keep their careers on track.
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