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The real reason young women leave their jobs

Source | The Washington Post : By Danielle Paquette

New York magazine’s Ann Friedman recently offered advice for employers who’d like to attract and retain top female talent:

“Pay us enough that if you were to accidentally email the entire office a spreadsheet containing everyone’s salary, you wouldn’t be ashamed.”

The column, “One Weird Trick To Keep Female Employees From Quitting,” highlighted a psychological effect of wage disparities: They’re a real morale killer.

Friedman cited a new survey of women, ages 22 to 35, who graduated from college within the last 10 years. When researchers asked why they’d left a job, respondents didn’t support the old “It’s time to focus on my family” narrative.

“Surprisingly,” the report reads, “young women identified finding a higher paying job, a lack of learning and development, and a shortage of interesting and meaningful work as the primary reasons why they may leave.”

The No. 1 response from millennial women: “I have found a job that pays more elsewhere.”

In other words, they were frustrated with a lack of money and promotions.

“Don’t assume we want to become mothers. And if we already are mothers, don’t assume that we’d rather have fewer hours or responsibilities,” Friedman wrote. “As long as we keep showing up and doing the job well, and until we tell you that we need different hours or a new role, just pay us more.”

Fresh-out-of-college workers — those who intuitively know that today’s women outpace men in college enrollment and degree attainment — might respond, “Well, duh.” That’s because the phenomenon Friedman describes hasn’t yet quite hit them.

In 2012, among workers ages 25 to 34, women’s hourly earnings were 93 percent of men’s, according to the Pew Research Center. 

In Jan. 2016, President Obama announced an action that requires companies to report what they pay employees by race and gender. This was just the latest policy aimed at addressing the wage gap between men and women. (Daron Taylor/TWP)

The gender wage gap cracks open with time, however. The Census Bureau calculates the median woman in the United States makes 79 cents for every dollar paid to the median man. This statistic has held steady since the 1990s, with some economists and politicians interpreting it as a matter of choice.

But in a January study, Cornell economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahnexamined national data that included labor market experience and concluded that only half of America’s wage gap can be explained by career decisions. And loosely explained, at that.

 Across industries, employers don’t pay and promote women on par with men. And when more women enter a field, strangely enough, the average wages tend to shrink.

Paula England, a sociology professor at New York University, analyzed census data from 1950 to 2000 and found that, when more women entered occupations, the jobs started paying less — even after controlling for education, experience, skills, race and region.

England and her co-authors blamed this trend on “the devaluation of work done by women.”

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