Investigating the Perceived Impact of Maternity on Software Engineering: a Women’s Perspective

Investigating the Perceived Impact of Maternity on Software Engineering: a Women’s Perspective

Abstract: Background: Several researchers report the impact of gender on software development teams, especially in relation to women. In general, women are under-represented on these teams and face challenges and difficulties in their workplaces. When it comes to women who are mothers, these challenges can be amplified and directly impact these women’s professional lives, both in industry and academia. However, little is known about women ICT practitioners’ perceptions of the challenges of maternity in their professional careers. Objective: This paper investigates mothers’ challenges and difficulties in global software development teams. Method: We conducted a survey with women in the ICT field who work in academia and global technology companies. We surveyed 141 mothers from different countries and employed mixed methods to analyze the data. Results: Our findings reveal that women face sociocultural challenges, including work-life balance issues, bad jokes, and moral harassment. The prejudices they suffer make them insecure and with low confidence in the work performed. Furthermore, they usually do not have a supporting network during and after maternity leave, which culminates in them feeling overloaded. The surveyed women suggested a set of actions to reduce the challenges they face in their workplaces, such as: creating a code of conduct for men and childcare within companies. Conclusion: Women face many challenges when they become mothers. Our findings explore these challenges and can help organizations in developing policies to minimize them. Also, it can help raise awareness of co-workers and bosses, toward a more friendly and inclusive workplace.

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