Apr 27, 2023 - Business

Chicago conference aims to boost women in tech

Photo of people gathering in a conference lobby

Photo courtesy of the Women Impact Tech conference

The Women Impact Tech conference is taking over Chicago's Willis Tower on Thursday.

Why it matters: The tech industry has been hit hard by layoffs and recent economic downturns. But men are rebounding faster than women, Women Impac Tech CEO Paula Bratcher Ratliff tells Axios.

What they're saying: "Men who were laid off recently were able to land new jobs within 90 days," Bratcher Ratliff says.

  • "It has taken their female counterparts almost two times longer."

By the numbers: Only about 30% of Chicago's tech workforce is female, per Women Impact Tech.

  • In management and leadership, that number shrinks to 16%. In executive leadership, it goes down even further, to 10%.

The intrigue: Bratcher Ratliff believes gender bias is the reason women aren't returning to the sector as quickly.

  • "When almost 75% of the tech population is male, you're going to have some bias in the interviewing process and in the hiring process."

Zoom in: She also believes the key to bridging this gap is by helping women build their networks.

  • "Women have a tendency to not build large networks, because we do a lot of work-life balance; we're really responsible for a lot more in the home than our male counterparts."
  • "That's what this conference is about. Network. Just one chance conversation with the right person can completely change your career trajectory."

Her advice for tech firms? "Create benefits and programs, more flexibility in your scheduling.

  • "Because most women are now balancing child care or elderly parent care."

What's next: The conference kicks off at 8:30am and features women from companies including Microsoft and LinkedIn.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Chicago stories


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more