How powerful women in tech are redefining the new normal

For months now we’ve all been studying the knowledge about the setbacks this pandemic has inflicted on women’s equality in the office. It’s now a well-worn narrative: “COVID-19 has pushed thousands and thousands of women out of the workforce”; “Coronavirus despatched women’s progress backward”; “The pandemic has derailed working moms.” Like many women in tech, I’ve been scared and anxious for the women I work alongside, make investments in, and mentor. I’d be mendacity if I didn’t admit I’ve additionally been involved for myself—and for my daughter.

Not too long ago certainly one of the most put-together and productive women I do know confessed to me that she’d lastly reached her breaking level. She’s been holding it down with a high-level place in enterprise capital, two elementary school-aged youngsters, and an equally busy partner. She managed to maintain juggling (and juggling, and juggling), however after we spoke she confided she had reached her restrict. After every week of deadlines, drop-offs, and really (very) little sleep, she realized she felt so mentally drained that she didn’t even belief herself to get behind the wheel of her automobile to come back to an in-person assembly.

With the effectivity of a working mom, she drew up a new plan for herself, took it to her boss, and mentioned: “Right here’s what issues have to appear to be for this to work going ahead.” Fortunately, her agency carried out the modifications—like no company-wide conferences after 4 p.m.—on the spot. Little question, this lady is very lucky to seek out herself in the place to ask for these modifications with out risking her livelihood, a privilege not each working mom has. However we’d like women who are in positions of energy to push for insurance policies like this that may profit everybody.


Once I was pregnant with my second youngster, my good friend after which COO at TaskRabbit Stacy Brown-Philpot advised me to “ask for what you want.” This seemingly easy recommendation can really feel daunting for a lot of women, however that is how actual change occurs. Women advocating for themselves and their altering wants helps form workplaces that work for all women.

I’ve heard many related tales from women in tech over the previous few months, from a high-powered working mother who threatened to stroll away from her prestigious place until versatile scheduling remained the company-wide coverage post-pandemic, to a mid-level supervisor who proactively drafted and pitched a new household go away coverage for her younger firm. I’ve heard tales from division heads mandating that each one workforce conferences should accommodate college pickup and drop-off instances, and tales of recruiters insisting on formal returnship packages to assist proficient candidates return to the workforce after taking parental go away. The tales are totally different, however the theme is the identical: All throughout tech and enterprise extra usually, women leaders are figuring out and eradicating the obstacles that forestall them and their colleagues from staying in the workforce.

These tales have compelled me to confront a query that’s been on my thoughts for a while. Is there a manner the women in tech can weaponize the vulnerability we are all feeling in this second to alter the pandemic narrative from setback to victory? Put in less-diplomatic phrases: Why shouldn’t women merely assume the authority to outline the new normal?

In late September, yet one more knowledge level of the pandemic’s influence on women was launched. “Women in the Workplace 2021,” the seventh such report produced by McKinsey in partnership with, confirms the concept that COVID-19 has been catastrophic for working women. This time, we realized that women are considerably extra burned out than they was once, and considerably extra burned out than males. A full 42% of women surveyed (out of a pool of 65,000 whole workers spanning 423 organizations) admit to being burned out.

Additionally tucked into the McKinsey report was a element that’s as unsurprising as it’s doubtlessly revolutionary: It’s women leaders who are the ones assembly this second by assuming the burden of serving to their groups maintain it collectively throughout this untenable state of affairs. The findings reveal that women managers are taking extra motion than their male counterparts in serving to their groups forestall or handle burnout, navigate new work-life challenges, and stability workloads. They’re additionally the ones checking on employees’ general well-being and offering the essential emotional help many employees (particularly working mother and father) have to proceed sustaining the unsustainable. Is anybody shocked by this?

We are in chaotic instances. There are no case research to contemplate, no administration science to reference right here. Working women are nonetheless juggling and attempting to carry all of it collectively. And it appears counterintuitive for them to tackle much more duty proper now. However they are the ones with the options. They know firsthand what would greatest meet the wants of themselves and their friends.

Women are in the C-suite and in each division. They’ve groups of direct reviews and public profiles they’ll leverage in an more and more aggressive expertise struggle. At this second, many of those women are quietly claiming the energy they should usher in an period of change that might result in extra equitable compensation, extra versatile working conditions, and a extra inclusive tech trade at massive. Particularly, I see them concentrating on 4 cornerstone actions:


They’re normalizing numerous priorities. With so many individuals now unapologetically inserting household, activism, or inventive pursuits at the heart of their lives, women leaders are insisting on the versatile schedules vital for his or her groups to outlive and thrive.

They’re drawing up new fashions. As a substitute of ready for his or her higher-ups to behave, women at each stage are taking the initiative to establish and design the insurance policies that empower working mother and father and appeal to vital expertise.

They’re utilizing their leverage. Extremely sought-after candidates are muscling employers into extra equitable practices for themselves and different women by clearly demanding the working circumstances and compensation that may lastly put women and minorities on equal footing.

They’re elevating their very own corners. Women with direct reviews are reimagining the workflows that may greatest serve their present groups and the expertise they’ll want in the future. They’re making impacts instantly by defining the new normal in the corners they already management.

There’s no sole authority to find out what the new normal will appear to be. Breathless article after breathless article (my very own included) have pleaded with firms to do higher for working mother and father, to create the urgently wanted options that may maintain women in the workforce, to indicate the management that so many women are already proactively (and sure, usually thanklessly) training.

It is probably not proper to anticipate already overburdened women leaders to battle the structural forces of inequality and resolve a multitude they didn’t make—however, at this exact time, it simply is perhaps revolutionary. We’re the ones most able to designing a new, higher technique to work that truly works for women. And—shock, shock—we’re additionally the ones most keen to really do the work.

It is a second of reinvention. Those who seize it get to outline what “new normal” means, fairly probably for generations to come back. It’s consumer error to proceed taking a look at this concern by means of the lens of disruption. The query that issues now is just not, “How can we modify the established order?” The query that issues now’s, “Who will decide what’s subsequent?”

Leah Solivan is the founding father of TaskRabbit and the normal accomplice at Gas Capital.