Women Going Back to Work in Tech: Starting New Careers

By Jes­si­ca Mitsch ● November 08, 2021

Tech is one of the most attractive fields for women going back to work after taking time to re-evaluate their careers during the pandemic.

WRAL featured Momentum’s CEO and Co-Founder Jessica Mitsch on a recent segment spotlighting the re-entrance of women into the workforce and why many are pursuing careers in tech.

Women remain underrepresented in STEM fields like software engineering and computer science

Generally, STEM has been in need of a much higher female presence; however, the gender gap in certain tech fields is especially strong, such as software engineering, where women only represent 14% of the total workforce, and computer-science related jobs, where women only represent 25% of the total workforce. Women software engineer hires have barely increased over the last 21 years, by just 2%, but women going back to work and into new careers after the pandemic could energize women’s representation in software engineering.

Jessica talked about how tech is a great avenue to explore for women going back to work and seeking a switch into a career that is “pandemic-proof for the long term.” She pointed out the financial security offered by competitive entry level STEM salaries of $70,000+ (in the Triangle area) and what she estimates as 85% of software engineer and IT workers’ jobs offering the flexibility of work-from-home.

The MetLife survey on women in STEM which inspired WRAL’s piece also identified several key aspects that most encourage women to take on jobs in this field, such as “More diversity, equity, and inclusion in the leadership pipeline” (38%), “More flexibility in work arrangements” (31%), “Dedicated trainings that help their career progression” (30%), and “Employee resource groups” (28%).

Momentum grads speak on why they chose tech and how the field has given them opportunity.

Earlier this year, Momentum held a Women’s History Month Panel on switching careers and jobs in tech. The panelists’ reasons for why they were drawn to tech and what makes their careers worthwhile share similarities with MetLife’s survey respondents.

For Alex Weiner, a Momentum grad who now works at Infinia ML, what prompted a switch in tech was “honestly the lack of women and wanting to be an influence and inspiration there. And also the flexibility; I hope to be a mom one day, I hope to continue working…and knowing I could do [coding bootcamp] in a fast amount of time without going into debt.”

Another Momentum grad, Nichole Ross, who works as a software engineer at Xactly Corp., came to coding after teaching mathematics and echoed Alex. She said she was also inspired by the fast amount of time it takes to finish a coding bootcamp—but between being an educator, mom, and earning her Doctorate, she did not have the time prior to the pandemic and being without work. She loves “the ability to be a mom and to work and to be respected in my field and be an influencer, it’s very convenient for my home life, there’s a really nice balance there.”

Amy Gori, Momentum’s Director of Engineering and Instruction, said that her biggest motivating factor was job stability. As one of the early adopters of coding bootcamp, she was attracted to learning a skill while avoiding enrollment in a 4 year institution to retrain herself. “I loved the idea of doing something I could count on to support my family. And as a side bonus, I am somebody who always likes to learn new stuff. I don’t like to be bored at my job, I like to learn something new every day, I like to be challenged—and that has definitely happened for me in tech. So I didn't quite realize how fast paced it was when I got into it, but it has been really satisfying in that regard.”

Another theme of the panel as a major plus of the tech sphere is the awesome community it cultivates. Amy said that, despite having graduated 7 years ago, “I still am in touch with all those folks I learned to code with. Now everyone is in senior roles and director roles and they're in leadership positions, which I love. But I still talk to those folks because we learned together and we kind of were in the trenches, doing the hard work every day.” Nichole spoke on this support and camaraderie, as well: “the community that you get with our bootcamp is that they're your community forever. They will personally know you, they will personally go hard for you if you need help by trying to get the job… they’ll help you through the process.”

Finally, as a piece of advice for women going back to work and on the fence of whether tech is the right route, Alex said, “if you're sitting on the outside of the tech industry right now and you're looking in, you're wondering what's going on here and whether you can really do this, my advice is to come on in. and yes, there's a place for you here. You're entitled to do this. You can learn to code if you want to. You can be part of this industry and the industry is huge right now. Every single corner of every kind of business needs a website. So there's a lot of work and there's a lot of room and your ideas are valuable. You have a contribution to make if you want to. And I think the thing you need to do is find the people that you want to do that with, whether that's at a job with supportive colleagues and supportive managers, or it's in some sort of learning environment. Find a place that makes you feel supported and makes you feel excited and joyful about what you're doing.”

Now is the time for women going back to work to feel empowered to make a move into the tech space that offers all kinds of growth opportunities for their career. Interested in learning more? Download our course guide today.

Co-Authored by Ginny Howey