Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the effectiveness of "return to work" schemes by examining their perceived usefulness and their impact on beneficiaries' attempt to return to employment. Design/methodology/approach - The evaluation, which was based on the TAM principles, incorporated feedback questionnaires, observations, focus groups, logbooks, documentation and informal interviews. Findings - It was found that the provision of diverse schemes that were delivered both individually and collectively through multiple forms, allied with the opportunities to explore, interact and share experiences, concerns and ideas, have helped to empower participants and increase their opportunities for return to work. Research limitations/implications - Although the study was limited to those women who wanted to return to employment, it nevertheless found that there is an interconnected web of impacts which participants experience, in order to develop themselves and achieve a return to employment. Practical implications - The study can be used by employers, government and industry associations to influence socially-responsible and ethically aware practices that would advance women's employment in high-tech jobs. Originality/value - Using a mixture of data collection methods, the research not only captured women returners' experiences, but also enabled them to "speak for themselves", ensuring a balance in the discussion and a justification of the interpretations.