Google Improved Maternity Leave, Post-Partum Attrition Dropped by 50%

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Google's data-driven management might just be able to find the right set of incentives and work arrangements to make careers easier on moms.

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Reuters

Amid all the handwringing about what technology companies can do to recruit and retain women in their ranks, we don't hear a lot of solutions. But here's an obvious thing that tech companies can do: increase the length of maternity leave and pay a full salary for its duration. 

It makes a huge difference in keeping female employees, we read in The Times.

Another time Google was losing women was after they had babies. The attrition rate for postpartum women was twice that for other employees. In response, Google lengthened maternity leave to five months from three and changed it from partial pay to full pay. Attrition decreased by 50 percent. 

We'll be checking up on the other big tech companies' maternity-leave policies, but let's note that this particular problem is not specific to the technology industry (though it is somewhat specific to the United States). That said, the tech industry may be more likely than most to solve it. If they choose to optimize for this particular variable, Google's data-driven management might be able to find the right set of incentives and work arrangements to make post-partum careers better.



Via Claire Diaz-Ortiz.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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