The fast-paced nature of the tech industry can cause large knowledge gaps to develop in those taking extended leave. This impacts people’s mental health and wellbeing, intensifies imposter syndrome, and further promotes poor stereotypes of what a real developer looks like.
As an industry we are working hard to encourage more diversity into technical roles, but for many (myself included) being a part of that diversity can result in a painful mismatch between our personal and professional goals. For women and diverse genders that choose to be parents, we work hard to get where we are, to prove ourselves in an industry that historically prioritises long hours, years of experience and the ability to keep up with the cutting edge of the industry. None of that aligns with taking a 6–12-month career break where your main concerns are nappies, bottles and the last time you had a shower.
While I was working in my previous role, I became a mum through adoption to the most incredible little kid, so I took 6 months off on parental leave. My biggest concern was how much technical knowledge I would miss while I was away and how I could catch up as quickly as possible when I returned. I had worked hard to catch up to my peers after career switching and was anxious about falling further behind.
There was nothing available to support that, so I created a role specific return to work plan for myself and my technical peers to use. This article will describe why it's so vital we support people returning from parental leave, and three steps you can use to make returning from parental leave as easy as possible.