The director of online job board Women In Technology has warned that women in the IT industry face major difficulties returning to work after maternity leave.
Maggie Berry said that this remains the biggest career hurdle for women in IT, superseding other challenges such as feelings of exclusion in a male dominated environment.
Berry was speaking from her experience of managing a networking forum for IT women that has over 4,500 members.
"The technology industry moves so fast that time off can have a huge impact on your career," she said.
Berry argued that, although the government has put legislation in place to help women back to work, none of it is any good if they lack the necessary skills.
"It costs a lot of money to train up again in a specific area of IT, and not a lot of women can afford it," she explained.
Berry put forward the idea of a graduate-like programme for women who have been on maternity leave, allowing them to be "brought back onboard gradually, up-skill and gain back their confidence".
Berry mentioned IT consultancy ThoughtWorks as leading the way in this strategy.
"At the end of the maternity programme, if women did not want to apply for a position at the company, or were turned down, at least they had the confidence to apply elsewhere," she said.
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