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Gender Diversity: Why They Leave, and Why They Stay

March 03, 2008

There are key differences in the ways men and women evaluate potential job changes and make career decisions. Our findings show that men are more likely to value direct returns from work, like salary and benefits. They are also more aggressive and less risk averse with respect to using job changes to fuel career growth.

In contrast, women tend to attach more importance to the less tangible or indirect benefits of a job, such as a pleasant work environment or flexible work hours. As they navigate the job search process women take a wider range of factors into account. The result may be that working women express higher levels of job satisfaction than their male counterparts.

Women Stress the Factors That Help Balance Family and Work

Not surprisingly, when weighing job offers, women place a stronger emphasis on balancing personal and professional responsibilities than men. What is striking is the degree to which work-life issues impact women’s job choices. Employers looking to attract qualified women need to know the way in which many women are seeking to balance salary and flexibility. When asked to choose the single most important deal-maker, both men and women rank salary highest, but men are more likely than women to do so. (45% vs. 38%). However, when women are presented with a wide range of factors that might affect their decision to accept a job offer, those that serve to help manage personal needs rise to the top:

1) An easy commute to/from work:

74% of women see this as a deal-maker, compared to 59% of men.

2) Flexible work hours:

69% of women would definitely accept a job if flexible hours were offered, while a little more than half (56%) of men would do so.

3) The option to work from home:

56% of women see having the option to work from home as a deal-maker, compared to 44% of men.

4) Great office location:

48% of women would accept a job because of a great office location, while 38% of men would do the same.

Looking at the range of deal-breakers, men and women alike choose “a lower salary than offered by other companies” and a “lack of benefits” as reasons why they would definitely turn down a job. However, women are more likely than men to pass on an offer of employment that entails:

1) A long commute (62% women, 50% men)

2) Inconvenient office location (39% vs. 30%)

3) No flexibility in work hours (41% vs. 26%)

4) Having to travel for work (25% vs. 12%)

Women are More Satisfied than Men with Current Jobs

Perhaps because women place more weight on non-salary factors in the job search process, they are more likely than men to be satisfied with many aspects of their jobs. They are also slightly more likely than men to say they’ll be at their current job a year from now (81% vs. 75% of men). 83% of women are satisfied with how interesting they find their work compared to 72% of men. 35% of women are very satisfied, while 24% of men say they are very satisfied. More women than men agree that “good employee morale is a top priority for management at my company” (65% vs. 56%) and they are very satisfied with their relationships with their bosses – 36% of women compared to 27% of men. 28% of women, versus 40% of men, say their current employer “is not flexible enough in allowing me to work hours that balance my personal and family life.”

Men and Women Have Similar Reasons for Leaving, But Men are More Likely to Act

However, the data also indicates that women appear to be more sensitive to relationships in the workplace while men are more concerned with career growth.

Women (31%) are more likely than men (21%) to attribute a job change to conflicts with a boss or coworkers.

Women (56%) are also more likely than men (39%) to strongly agree that “It’s important that I feel comfortable around my coworkers.”

Men (17%) are slightly more likely than women (11%) to leave a job after not receiving a promotion they felt was deserved.

However, when we look at who actually might leave their jobs, men appear to be less risk-averse than women. In particular:

Men (54%) are more likely than women (43%) to have looked for a job in the past year.

Men (61%) are more likely than women (47%) to think that it is a good time to look for a new job.

33% of men see it as a “reality” that in today’s job market, “changing companies is the best way to advance,” compared to 23% of women.

Men (62%) are also less likely than women (70%) to say it is a “reality” today that “people stay at their jobs for fear that the new job would be worse than the one they have now.”


Monster’s research shows that while there may be many common motivators for men and women, they approach the job search and career management process from different perspectives. Women take compensation issues into account when looking for a job, but they also factor in other non-financial issues like flexible work hours, commute time and work environment. A likely consequence is that women say they are more satisfied with their positions, and possibly less likely to leave. In contrast, men are more singularly focused on salary and career growth; this may leave them more open to switching jobs in order to advance to the next level.

This implies that recruiters and HR professionals must think more holistically as they structure job offers and develop retention programs. Providing flexible work arrangements, work life balance initiatives and telecommuting options will not only help to attract more women, but it will also help bolster satisfaction rates among men and reduce costly employee turnover.

Strategies for Success:

Offer Competitive Compensation Packages

Develop Flexible Work Arrangements

Adapt a Work-Life focus when developing Human Resource programs

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