Women stay in jobs longer than they should

The job market still isn’t good enough for a lot of people to think about switching jobs, even if they’re sick of the one they have. But research shows men and women handle job tenure differently. Once people have been settled in a job for a few years, women are less likely to leave than guys are.

Take Danielle Maveal. For a long time, she thought of herself as lucky, working as a creative type for Etsy, an online marketplace selling handmade and vintage stuff. She even had this cute work alias -- Danielle XO.

“And I probably should have left a year, maybe more than a year, before I did,” Maveal says. “But I couldn’t imagine who I would be if I wasn’t Danielle XO.”

Her whole identity was tied up with her job. And it wasn’t just that. Maveal says after several years, “I felt like I owed it to the company to be there.”

Jessica Bennett isn’t surprised to hear that. She is editorial director of Lean In -- that’s Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s foundation. Bennett says women can be extremely loyal. She used to work with guys who regularly put counter-offers in front of their bosses just to get a raise. She couldn’t bring herself to do the same.

“When you get in a place where you feel like you’ve come up there, you’ve been promoted, there have been people who have helped you along the way, you feel committed to them, it’s almost like you’re in a relationship with them, and you feel guilty in some way leaving,” Bennett says.

But date your employer for too long, and it could cost you a lot of money. Danielle Maveal got a 38 percent raise when she finally left Etsy and began a new job. Switching companies is often the best way to get a big salary bump.

Dana Britton, who directs the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University, she says one important factor keeping women in the same jobs is their kids. Britton says because there’s no national policy on leave or flexible hours, employees with some level of flexibility tend to feel lucky where they are.

“They often perceive it as a one-off, right, this is something my boss did because they’re nice to me or my supervisor did or company did,” Britton says. “So they feel it as a sort of personal benefit, and it’s not a benefit that’s transferable.”

And, Britton says, there’s another big reason women may want to hang on to what they’ve got. A recent Pew survey found 40 percent of women are now the main, or only, breadwinners in their families.

Ashley Milne-Tyte is the host of a podcast about women and the workplace called The Broad Experience.

About the author

Ashley Milne-Tyte is the host of a podcast about women in the workplace called The Broad Experience.


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