Paid maternity leave is an essential part of keeping women in the labour market and closing the gender gap in tech jobs, according to Youtube's CEO.
Susan Wojcicki wrote on Huffington Post that if the gender pay gap persists women are at risk of missing out on tomorrow’s best job opportunities. They may lose the chance to influence the economic and social change of this century, she said.
Industry data shows that women hold just 26 per cent of all tech jobs.
Yet companies willing to make an effort are finding solutions to the issue, Wojcicki said.
Google halved the rate at which mothers quit by increasing paid maternity leave in 2007 to 18 weeks from 12 weeks.
“It may sound counterintuitive, but the research—and Google’s own experience—shows a generous paid maternity leave actually increases retention,” she wrote in the post.
“When women are given a short leave, or they’re pressured to be on call, some decide it’s just not worth it to return,” she added.
Nearly 90 per cent of American women do net get paid any family leave.
Other companies are taking a step forward. Salesforce, the cloud-based software company, opted to erase the pay gap entirely by reviewing its payroll and adjusting salaries so that all female employees made the same amount as the men in comparable roles.
The decision, which was first made public in November last year, was implemented following the review of 17,000 employees’ salaries and cost the company $3 million, according to the Atlantic.
Netflix and Microsoft both extended their parental leave policies in August last year.
The world's 15 most powerful women in 2015
The world's 15 most powerful women in 2015
1/15 Angela Merkel - German Chancellor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has retained her number one ranking for topping this year’s Forbes list for the fifth consecutive year and ten times in total.
2/15 Hillary Clinton - Presidential candidate, United States
Clinton, who could become the world’s most powerful leader in 2016, has been featured on the list every year since it launched in 2014.
3/15 Melinda Gates - Cochair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Melinda Gates has cemented her dominance in philanthropy and global development to the tune of $3.9 billion in giving in 2014 and more than $33 billion in grant payments since she founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with her husband in 2000.
4/15 Janet Yellen - Chair, Federal Reserve, Washington, United States
Janet Yellen made history in 2014 when she became the first female head of the Federal Reserve.
5/15 Marry Barra - CEO of General Motors
Mary Barra made history by becoming the first female CEO of General Motors.
6/15 Christina Lagarde - Managing director, International Monetary Fund
Christine Lagarde is entering the last year of her first term heading the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the organisation which serves as economic advisor and backstop for 188 countries. Under Lagarde the IMF has supported efforts to increase female labor force participation as way to reduce poverty and inequality. The UK, Germany, China, France and Korea have endorsed Christine Lagarde for another term as the head of the IMF.
7/15 Dilma Rousseff - President, Brazil
Dilma Rousseff, who has been elected in 2010, is Brazil's first female president.
8/15 Sheryl Sandberg - COO of Facebook
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of bestseller “Lean In,” joined the company in 2008 and became the first woman on its board four years later. Sandberg helped the social network go public and expand digital revenue.
9/15 Susan Wojcicki - CEO of Youtube
Susan Wojcicki is CEO of YouTube, the world’s most popular digital video platform used by over a billion people across the globe. She oversees YouTube's content and business operations, engineering, and product development.
10/15 Michelle Obama - First lady, United States
Michelle Obama, the 44th first lady of the United States has focused her attention on issues such as the support of military families, helping working women balance career and family and encouraging national service.
11/15 Park Geun-hye - President, South Korea
Park Geun-hye is the first female leader of a country that has the highest level of gender inequality in the developed world. In her inauguration speech, she promised to prioritise both national security and economic revitalisation.
12/15 Oprah Winfrey - Actress, Director/Producer, Entrepreneur, Personality, Philanthropist
Oprah Winfrey, a former queen of daytime TV has proven she can thrive without a talkshow. Her 'The Life You Want' tour sold out stadiums from Newark to Seattle in 2014.
13/15 Ginni Rometty - CEO of IBM
Ginni Rometty joined IBM in 1981 and later became the first woman to lead the company.
14/15 Meg Whitman - CEO of Hewlett-Packard
Meg Whitman is the only woman to have headed two large U.S. public companies: eBay and Hewlett-Packard.Until Marissa Mayer's arrival at Yahoo, she was the only female head of a leading Internet-based company.
15/15 Indra Nooyi - CEO of PepsiCo
Indra Nooyi is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo. Mrs. Nooyi leads one of the world’s largest convenient food and beverage companies, with 2008 annual revenues of more than $43 billion.
The online film and TV streaming giant, now lets parents take as much maternity and paternity leave as they want up to a year, while new mothers, working at Microsoft, can take a total of 20 weeks of fully paid leave and fathers can take 12 weeks of paid leave.
“I've been inspired to see other companies like Netflix and Microsoft offer more generous paid family leave in recent months. If tech companies want to boost their retention, they need to offer generous paid leave. And by raising awareness about the benefits of paid family leave, they can hopefully inspire the nation to do the same,” Wojcicki said.