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Navigating the tech industry as a working mum

A working mum sitting at the dining table typing on a laptop, while her child draws behind her and partner cooks breakfast

ARTICLE SUMMARY

From balancing the demands of a high-paced industry with family responsibilities, to the lack of support and understanding, Tayla Stone from Permutable AI, sheds light on the unique hurdles that working mums encounter. As someone whose been there and done it, Tayla also gives her advice for other working mums in tech.

Talya, Chief Marketing Officer at Permutable AI, is no stranger to navigating the complex landscape as a working mum with resilience and determination.

For the last 15 years she has been working in startups and is driven by a commitment to excellence and a dedication to fostering positive corporate behaviour, 

As a seasoned marketing professional, Talya understands the significance of balancing a demanding career with family responsibilities. Her journey reflects not only the triumphs but also the struggles that many working mums encounter. Talya is a staunch advocate for promoting a supportive work environment and dismantling gender biases within the industry.

In her role as CMO at Permutable AI, Talya leads with a passion for innovation and a commitment to ethical business practices. Her experience as a working mum fuels her dedication to creating an inclusive workplace that accommodates the unique challenges faced by women in technology.

She is also the founder of the UK’s No. 6 parenting blog, Motherhood: The Real Deal –  a platform that resonates with mums globally, offering genuine insights into the challenges and triumphs of modern motherhood.

Connect with Talya to gain more insights into the intersection of marketing, technology, and the delicate balance of career and family life and connect with her on @motherhoodrealdeal for all things motherhood.

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Being a working mum in the tech industry comes with its own unique set of challenges.

The demanding nature of the industry, combined with the responsibilities of raising a family, can often lead to feelings of overwhelm and burnout. One of the main challenges faced by working mums is the struggle to find a balance between their professional and personal lives. The fast pace, high expectations and male-dominated environment of the tech industry can make it difficult for mums to dedicate enough time and energy to their families.

Another challenge faced by working mums in the tech industry is the lack of support and understanding from employers and colleagues. Ever had someone quip at you for being a “part-timer”  for leaving the office at a pre-agreed earlier time? You won’t be the first or last.

The truth is that often, there is a lack of flexibility when it comes to working hours and the ability to work remotely, although I am very lucky that my employer Permutable AI is very supportive and accommodating in this role. But many others are not. This can make it difficult for mums to attend school events, doctor’s appointments for their children, leading to feelings of guilt and frustration.

The tech industry is still predominantly male-dominated, which can create a sense of isolation and imposter syndrome for working mums, the latter is my nemesis and something that I am constantly having to work on. No matter how lovely my male colleagues might be, I am the lone she-wolf. 

Is it any wonder that gender biases and stereotypes can hinder career growth and make it difficult for mums to be taken seriously in their professional roles? These challenges can often lead to a struggle for working mums to find their place in the tech industry, not to mention keep pace, and dare we dream – grow and climb.

The Importance of Work-Life Balance

Finding a balance between work and family life is crucial for the well-being of working mums anywhere but especially in the tech industry. It is important to prioritize self-care and mental health to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance – something I know only too well. This means setting boundaries and learning to say no when necessary. Our male counterparts are very good at doing this – so should we be! 

It also means finding space for down time – for activities where you can switch off and relax. For me, that means getting up before everybody else and heading out for a cold, brisk run with the dog at 6am in the morning (call the crazy!), a brief yoga flow once my daughter is in bed, and then making quality time for family and friends in the evenings and weekends. 

In addition to self-care, it is essential for working mums to have a support system in place. This can include friends, family, and fellow working mums who understand the challenges and can offer guidance and support. Finding a community of like-minded individuals can provide a sense of belonging and help alleviate feelings of isolation. Do not be afraid to show vulnerability and ask for help. You will be amazed at how much people love to help if only you would ask. 

Strategies for Managing Work and Family Responsibilities

To successfully navigate the tech industry as a working mum, it is important to implement strategies for managing work and family responsibilities. One such strategy is effective time management. This involves prioritizing tasks and setting realistic goals, both at work and at home. 

Creating a schedule and sticking to it can help ensure that all responsibilities are met and that time is allocated for both work and family. For me, that’s ruthlessly time blocking and being fierce with my time at work, and living by to-do lists and imperfection at home. But always being present at both. 

Another strategy is to delegate tasks and ask for help when needed. Again this applies to both work and home.  As a working mum, it is important to recognize that it is not possible to do everything on your own. Finding support in the form of childcare, household help, or outsourcing certain tasks, asking your partner to chip in more can help lighten the load and free up time for both work and family. Remember, the supermum myth is a myth for a reason. Because mum’s don’t wear capes. 

Additionally, it is important to communicate openly with employers and colleagues about your needs and limitations. This can involve discussing flexible working hours, remote work options, or other accommodations that can help balance work and family responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to be bullish here, in fact it is mandatory. Having open and honest conversations can lead to more understanding and support from your professional network.

Tips for Prioritizing Self-Care and Mental Health

Prioritizing self-care and mental health is crucial for working mums in the tech industry. Here are some tips to help you take care of yourself:

Make time for yourself: Carve out regular time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s reading a book, going for a walk, practicing mindfulness or whatever your jam is. 

Set boundaries: Learn to say no as and when necessary and set realistic expectations for yourself.

Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you are doing your best in both your professional and personal roles.

Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist when it all feels too much and you need someone to talk to or help you navigate difficult emotions. It is amazing how much better you feel after opening up and offloading!

Take breaks: Schedule regular breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. Yes you deserve it! And despite what you may think, taking breaks also helps to beat procrastination, boost productivity and keep you focussed. 

Celebrate small victories: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Again, you deserve it!

Navigating Maternity Leave and Returning to Work

So what about maternity leave? Although 10 years ago when I had my daughter I was not working in the tech industry, I wanted to address this important part of the journey for many. Navigating maternity leave and returning to work can be a challenging transition for working mums in any industry but again….especially in the tech industry. It is important to plan ahead and communicate with your employer about your maternity leave plans and expectations for your return. Again, be assertive here. 

During maternity leave, it is important to take the time to rest and bond with your baby. No matter how you feel before the baby arrives, your priorities will change with the arrival of your new addition so it’s important to be real about that. That said, you may also want to consider staying connected with your professional network and keeping up with industry trends just so you keep a toe dipped in.  However it’s important to be realistic here as you will be spending a lot of time feeding, changing nappies and feeling sleep deprived especially during the earlier months!

When returning to work, it is important to ease back into your professional role gradually. Communicate clearly with your employer about any adjustments or accommodations that may be needed, such as flexible working hours or a reduced workload. It is also important to be patient with yourself and give yourself time to adjust to the new routine. Having a baby turns your life upside down and there is a lot to adjust to in returning to work. 

Overcoming Gender Biases and Stereotypes in the Tech Industry

Overcoming gender biases and stereotypes in the tech industry is an ongoing challenge for working mums. I strongly feel that it is important to challenge these biases and advocate for gender equality in the workplace. Here’s what you can do to make a difference:

Educate yourself: Learn about unconscious biases and how they can impact decision-making in the workplace.

Speak up: Challenge sexist comments or assumptions when you encounter them, and encourage others to do the same.

Seek out mentors: Find mentors who can support and advocate for your career growth. Cultivating mentorship relationships is a strategic and enriching approach that can profoundly impact your career trajectory.

Lead by example: Be a role model for other working mums and mums-to-be in the industry and demonstrate that it is possible to succeed in both your professional and personal life.

Resources and Organizations for Working Mums in Tech

There are several resources and organizations available to support working mums in the tech industry. These organizations can provide valuable resources, support, and networking opportunities for working mums in the tech industry. Here are some notable ones:

International:

Women Who Code: An international non-profit organization that supports women in technology careers through networking events, mentorship programs, and skill-building workshops.

Tech Women Network: An organization that connects and empowers women in technology, providing resources, networking opportunities, and mentorship programs.

United States:

Moms in Tech: A community that provides resources and support for working mums in the tech industry, including career coaching, networking events, and job opportunities.

MotherCoders: A non-profit organization that offers coding bootcamps and resources to help mothers re-enter the tech industry, with a focus on creating a supportive community.

Tech Ladies: A community that connects women with job opportunities in the tech industry and provides resources for skill-building and networking.

Women Who Code: Women Who Code is a global non-profit that supports women in technology through networking events, coding workshops, and mentorship programs.

United Kingdom:

SheCanCode: Well you already know this one! A community to help inspire, navigate and support you at all stages of your career in tech – from the classroom to the boardroom.  

TechMums: An organization that offers free coding and digital skills courses specifically designed for mums, enabling them to upskill and pursue careers in technology.

Mums in Technology: A London-based organization that offers coding courses, mentorship, and networking opportunities specifically designed for mums looking to enter or return to the tech industry.

Women in Tech UK: An online community and resource hub that supports women working in various technology-related roles, providing networking opportunities, events, and career advice.

Code First: Girls: Code First: Girls offers coding courses and events aimed at closing the gender gap in the tech industry, providing support for women pursuing tech careers.

Working Families: An organization that provides advice and support for working parents, including those in the tech sector, to help them balance work and family life.

Balancing Career Growth and Family Goals

Finding a balance between career growth and family goals is a constant juggling act for working mums in the tech industry. It is important to define what success means to you and set realistic expectations for both your professional and personal life.

One strategy for balancing career growth and family goals is to set short-term and long-term goals. This can involve creating a career plan that aligns with your family priorities and allows for flexibility during this stage of your life. It is important to regularly reassess and adjust your goals as your circumstances change.

Additionally, it is important to communicate with your employer about your career aspirations and ambitions. Having open and honest conversations can lead to more opportunities for growth and advancement within the tech industry.

Final Thoughts

Striking the perfect balance between work and family life is an ongoing journey for working mums in the tech industry. By prioritizing self-care, seeking support and community, and challenging gender biases, working mums can navigate the challenges and thrive in their professional and personal roles.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Yes, it takes grit, determination, a whole lot of hard work and a phenomenal amount of juggling but there are resources and organizations available to support and empower you and people willing to listen to and support you. It’s up to us to show the world (and tech industry!) that it is possible to achieve success in both your career and family life, but it won’t necessarily be an easy journey.

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