Project 18 releases preliminary survey results on women in the Omaha tech work force

October 18, 2018

(Photo: Project 18 organizers announce preliminary results at DoSpace.)


OMAHA — Preliminary results of the Project 18 workforce survey show that many women in Omaha tech and tech-adjacent jobs say that gender has been a factor in negative workplace experiences like missing out on raises and promotions, and in some cases, being taken less seriously in their careers.

The survey was distributed in May. Organizers said almost 800 people started the survey, with 226 people completing it. It asked men and women whether they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about workplace culture, advancement opportunities, benefits and work-life balance.

The full results of the survey are expected to be released in early 2019.

Survey organizers released the results of 10 statements that they categorized as “Strengths” and “Opportunities.” The five “Opportunities” statements showed areas where men and women’s workplace experiences differed widely.

For example, 27 percent of women said they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “I believe my gender has played a role a role in my missing out on a raise, promotion or a chance to get ahead.” 90 percent of men disagreed.

The implication is that a significant majority of women surveyed believe gender has cost them advancement opportunities.

35 percent of women surveyed disagreed that “My gender will make it harder for me to get a raise, promotion, or get ahead at my company.” Again, 90 percent of men disagreed.

(Graphic courtesy Project 18.)

“There are a few statistics here that really show some very deep differences in how men and women perceive opportunity,” said Project 18 organizer Rebecca Stavick. “Especially in terms of how their gender may affect their opportunities for raises and promotions, or if their gender has played a role in possibly missing those opportunities. I think that that’s something we should really take a close look at, because the difference there is pretty large.”

Stavick said it will be important to do more research on the mobility of men and women in the Omaha tech workforce. She says existing research on women in the Omaha workforce shows gender does play a big role in whether or not one has the opportunity to be promoted — but there’s a need for more.

“Further research on this issue needs to be done at the local level in order to support a healthy workplace for everyone,” said Stavick.

The five “Strengths” statements showed areas that a majority of both men and women agreed on.

For example, 87.5 percent of women agreed with the statement “My co-workers were accommodating and supportive upon my return from maternity/paternity leave.” (85.7 percent of men agreed with the statement.)

(Graphic courtesy Project 18.)

“It’s clear that those things that we’re really good at don’t really run along gender lines,” said Stavick. “Those strengths, I think, need to be applauded, because the levels of engagement and support that our workers feel across the city in tech and tech-adjacent roles I think first off needs to be really recognized.”

Project 18 is a movement to make Omaha the most women-friendly tech community in the United States, and the survey was part of an effort to quantify its success.

While research exists more broadly about women’s experiences in the Omaha workforce, the Project 18 Survey was the first effort to document women’s experiences here in tech and tech-adjacent roles.

One of the next steps will be to compare Omaha to comparably-sized cities.

“Ideally, we will do a robust survey on this every single year. Over time, if we can get data from peer cities that will show us how we’re doing in comparison, that’s gonna be even more valuable than national survey data,” said Stavick.

The ultimate goal is to attract and retain tech talent.

“Because if you’re a woman in tech in Omaha, and your work environment is not great, and the culture sucks, and you’re not moving up, why wouldn’t you move to Denver or move to Kansas City? There wouldn’t be a reason to stay here,” said Stavick. “And so if we can find out more about those things, we can start to turn that around and just start really start to be more strategic about stopping brain drain.”

For more information on Project 18, click here.