Tech’s Great Resignation Hides an Ugly Truth
A lack of opportunity for women and POC is driving the trend
In September of 2021, more than 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in a trend known as the Great Resignation. In the tech world, many see the Great Resignation as a positive thing. More startups and solopreneurs are good for innovation, right? Creative destruction and all that? Not so fast, says Katie Branch, Senior Manager at tech company Ensono and a vocal advocate for women and People of Color (POC) in tech. It’s true that many tech workers are leaving their jobs. But Branch says that tech’s Great Resignation is disproportionally affecting women and POC, revealing concerning trends about tech’s often-failed push for better diversity, inclusion, and work/life balance.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Great Resignation isn’t balanced. While the most visible exemplars of the trend are young, white, male Millennials who quit their stifling jobs to found bold startups and work from vans or beaches, the reality is grimmer. Most Americans who left their jobs this year were low-wage workers and female middle-managers. Cliches like #vanlife make for splashy Instagram posts, but most people leaving their jobs aren’t doing so in order to travel the world or write their debut novel.
Why are they actually leaving? According to a study cited by the Journal, many are leaving because their original jobs were low-paying, exploitative, or both. “Nearly half of low-wage and front-line workers surveyed said their pay and benefits were insufficient while 41% said they felt burned out from demanding workloads,” the Journal shares. Of those, many were POC. The study shows that “Some 35% of Black employees and 40% of Asian employees said they were considering leaving, compared with 26% of white employees.” The jobs exodus appears to have less to do with innovation and new beginnings than it does with workers fleeing jobs that compensated them poorly and placed too many demands on their time.
That’s especially true in the tech world, Branch (who is female and a Person of Color herself) told me in an interview. “The technology industry has had a long history of being a male-dominated field and while strides have been made to combat this imbalance, there is still more that can be…