IT Operations

Women tech workers experience greater share of layoffs

Women are getting laid off in greater numbers at tech companies. Experts disagree as to why.
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Francis Scialabba

· less than 3 min read

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It’s been over a year since tech companies began massive layoffs in response to the post-pandemic economic downturn. Now, data points to the fact that more women than men have been losing their jobs in an industry where women were already underrepresented.

According to new research from Integro Accounting, women in the UK held 20.1% of tech industry jobs in 2022, down from 22.7% in 2021. In the US between October 2022 and June 2023, 45% of laid-off tech workers were women, according to Layoffs.fyi data shared with Axios. “A close to 50–50 split is actually pretty notable because generally the workforce is not 50–50,” Layoffs.fyi’s creator, Roger Lee, told Fast Company.

Women are more likely to have junior roles. ITPro spoke to experts who said that layoffs disproportionately affected women because women were more likely to hold part-time roles or roles that required flexibility, and thus were the first to go. But Donne Burrows, chief operating officer at Engine B, told ITPro that this isn’t exactly true.

“From my experience of recruiting and managing people and operations, I don’t believe that female tech workers are necessarily working in roles more vulnerable to cuts,” Burrows said. “However, as companies look at making cost savings, they may be taking out more junior roles as these can be consolidated or automated.”

Women at tech companies are likely to have non-tech jobs. According to research from Interviewing.io, the tech layoffs of 2022 disproportionately affected HR and recruiting, jobs that are more likely to be held by women.

Sania Khan, chief economist at Eightfold AI, said in a blog post last November that women make up only one in four technical roles at tech companies, and that Eightfold AI’s research showed that many of the jobs most impacted by layoffs were “historically female-leaning.”

Lay off more fairly. Some layoffs are inevitable, but gender inequality isn’t. To increase equity in layoffs, it’s important for managers to “identify a set of criteria that are going to be used at the outset of the decision-making process,” Daniel Prokott, partner at law firm Faegre Drinker, told HR Brew.

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to cloud computing, IT Brew covers the latest trends shaping business tech in our 4x weekly newsletter, virtual events with industry experts, and digital guides.