In January 2020, Kelly Gilbert felt as if her life was at a standstill.

The new mom was suffering from postpartum depression. She had just resigned from her security job of seven years, unable to take the stress. To make extra money, she began driving for ride-sharing companies, but she had to take her infant daughter along. As she struggled to make ends meet, she faced eviction from her home.

“I was overwhelmed. I knew I couldn’t give up, but I knew I didn’t have the energy to keep putting on a brave face,” said Gilbert, 32. “I didn’t have the fight in me.”

Then a friend told Gilbert about a new program from Atlanta-based nonprofit Women in Technology (WIT) that could help her launch a career in information technology. The application was due in four days so Gilbert called her contacts with an urgent request for recommendations and submitted the application in time.

During the interview, she was sure the panel would not take her seriously.

“How will you do this when you just walked away from your job?” one panel member asked.

“I am going to show my daughter that she can do whatever she wants to do,” Gilbert replied, crying.

A few days later, while she was driving for Uber, Gilbert got the call. She had been offered a spot in the program. “I felt like I had hope,” Gilbert said. “I said, ‘This is your light.’”

In a matter of weeks, the outbreak of a global pandemic would result in unprecedented numbers of women exiting the workforce, giving way to the lowest level of female participation in the workforce in more than three decades. Men have recouped all of their labor force losses since February 2020, but there are still nearly 1.1 million fewer women in the labor force, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly jobs report.

Thirty years ago, a group of women launched Women in Technology because they didn’t see other women in leadership roles. At the time, they were mostly concerned with networking, said WIT board president Patti Dismukes.

Read the full article about women in tech by Nedra Rhone at The 74.