How COVID-19 Is Impacting Women in Tech: Q&A With Nancy Wang, AWS


In this 7-video interview series, Nancy Wang, general manager of data protection services at AWS and CEO of Advancing Women In Tech (AWIT), joins Neha Pradhan Kulkarni for a chat on how the pandemic has shifted the scale of balance and impacted women in tech. From feeling burned out at work to taking extra responsibilities, they discuss why women in tech are twice as likely as men to have lost their jobs or been furloughed due to the pandemic.

Watch the complete conversation with Nancy Wang, GM of data protection services at AWS and CEO, AWIT in this second video:

Key Takeaways on How the Pandemic Is Impacting Women in Tech:

  • Provide flexibility to women in tech who are primary caregivers
  • Allow women in tech to go part time rather than exiting the workforce
  • Focus on strong sponsorship or mentor programs to endorse rising stars

Here are the edited excerpts from our interview with Nancy Wang:

What impact did the COVID-19 pandemic have on women’s career in tech? How can the tech industry help?

Yeah, absolutely. If you look at the numbers up and down the ranks you’ve seen mid-career women have had to take a step back in their career. If you look at the statistics of C-suite women, we’re actually in a worse spot. It’s really sad to see us lose some of that ground of what we’ve just gained over the past decade. That’s why, I am encouraging fellow leaders within Amazon, Google and across the tech industry to not stand for that. For example, when you are assessing across your organization take a hard look at the various ratings that you’re assigning your employees. What is the balance between men and women in your organization? Is there a statistical difference? And so on.

Another outcome of the pandemic is women are taking on more responsibilities, such as being the primary care caregivers of either children or maybe their parents. So, providing flexibility to them is impertinent. For example, allow women to go part time, which is actually an option that I recommended to one of my mentees, who herself is leading a product at AWS. She just became a first time mom and rather than exiting the workforce altogether, she and her leadership through my mentorship was able to gain a 25% on return to work policy.

That allowed her to take care of her newborn, and still remain in the game. Now her organization has grown bigger. Plus, she hasn’t really lost much of that ground from her maternity leave. So understanding what flexible options there are between two women and having other women really sponsor them and advocate for them is super, super important. 

Then finally from a mentorship angle, having concrete sponsorship or mentorship programs where senior executives in a company will endorse rising stars is important too. To become, a ‘single-threaded leader’, which is a term we use at Amazon Web Services. It means, they themselves can eventually become a GM one day and be responsible for not just engineering or product, but both. So a combination of those programs and a more flexible mindset of understanding is making sure that you’re acting in an equitable way. 

If you missed the first video, you can watch it here: AWS GM of Data Services on How To Balance the Responsibilities of Data Protection.

About Nancy WangOpens a new window :

Nancy Wang is an American technology business leader and philanthropist. She has held leadership roles at Google, Rubrik, and Amazon, while also founding and serving as the CEO of Advancing Women in Product (AWIP). She has received multiple awards and has multiple patents pending.  

About Amazon Web ServicesOpens a new window

For over 15 years, Amazon Web Services has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud offering. AWS has been continually expanding its services to support virtually any cloud workload, and it now has more than 200 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, and application development, deployment, and management from 81 Availability Zones within 25 geographic regions. 

About Tech Talk

Tech Talk is an interview series that features notable CTOs and senior technology executives from around the world. Join us as we talk to these technology and IT leaders who share their insights and research on data, analytics, and emerging technologies. If you are a tech expert and wish to share your thoughts, write to [email protected]Opens a new window .

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