Women Tech Leaders Cite Top X Factors for Career Success

ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 1, 2019 – At the Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, Capital One today released a new study looking at the roots and motivations behind women’s success in tech. 

“Women leave the tech industry because of real and valid challenges, yet when we only talk about those stories, we paint a picture of experiences that don’t reflect the success of women who stayed,” said Julie Elberfeld, SVP, Card Tech & Executive Sponsor of Diversity and Inclusion for Technology, Capital One. “By uncovering the x-factors that contribute to the success of those women, we hope to inspire more women and girls to enter and stay in meaningful and rewarding tech careers.” 

The Capital One Women in Technology Survey, conducted by global public opinion and data company YouGov, polled a national sample of 250 women who have remained in tech careers at least eight years and attained senior roles to learn the roots and motivations for deciding to stay in tech earlier in their careers, and for their eventual success in industry, and in order to contrast experiences, 200 who left the industry after three or more years.

Women who had been in tech roles for more than eight years and attained senior roles said the overwhelming reason they stayed in tech was because they were good at the work (56%), followed by their enjoyment of working with other technologists (44%) and love of the work itself (43%). Fair and good compensation (41%) and flexibility to achieve work-life balance (39%) were also top drivers.

“There’s a myth that women don’t belong in tech because they don’t like the work,” Elberfeld said. “The data from this study shows that intellectually challenging work, in combination with peer and management support, fair compensation and flexibility, can provide the right environment for women in technology to cultivate senior level careers.” 

When asked about what had fueled their success in tech, women who had achieved senior roles cited several factors including intellectually challenging work (39%), good and fair pay and benefits (39%), flexibility in work-life balance (31%), the ability to participate in meaningful work (30%), as well as their own grit and determination (30%).

In fact, the women who had persisted in tech reported extremely high levels of grit and determination, as well as a strong sense of purpose. The vast majority (93%) of these women said their ability to persevere is excellent or very good, and 94% were confident or very confident in their ability to solve difficult technology problems. Most of the women (93%) who stayed in tech careers said that having a sense of purpose at work was also an essential part of their success and personal satisfaction in the workplace.

The study also highlighted ongoing areas of opportunity for employers. Women still face challenges that make it difficult to stay in tech careers. The research found that even women who chose to stay in tech careers cited limited opportunity for advancement (27%), unfair compensation compared to peers (25%) and little support from management (22%) as factors that led them to consider leaving the industry at some point in their careers. In fact, only 27% of women in tech said they never considered leaving their tech careers.

In addition, there were x-factors that revealed a difference between the experiences of women who stayed and women who left. A large majority of the women who stayed (75%) reported having role models at their companies, while a much lower percentage of women who left (56%) claimed to have the same experience. Similarly, women who stayed and succeeded in tech are twice as likely to say that peer groups of other women, both within and outside their companies, is very important for work success (45%) compared to women who left (23%).

“Our research reveals ways companies can encourage women to stay in the industry, which is critical for building a diverse and inclusive workforce essential to driving innovation,” said Margaret Mayer, MVP, Software Engineering, Messaging & Emerging Technology at Capital One. “Equal pay and work-life flexibility are just the start. Companies should also give women challenging work that draws on their grit and problem-solving abilities, and which gives them a sense of purpose. Then support them with the right training, mentorship and opportunities for peer networking.” 


Survey Methodology

Capital One's Women in Tech Survey was conducted by global public opinion and data company YouGov. For this online survey, a national sample of 250 women who have remained in tech careers at least eight years and attained senior roles were surveyed to learn the roots and motivations for their success in tech, and 200 senior women who worked in tech for at least three years and chose to leave the profession were also surveyed to help better understand the women who stay in tech.  

About Capital One 

Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A., and Capital One Bank (USA), N.A., had $248.2 billion in deposits and $364.0 billion in total assets as of June 30, 2018. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients through a variety of channels. Capital One, N.A. has branches located primarily in New York, Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 100 index.