Recently I blogged about research indicating that women executives are more than twice as likely to leave their jobs as men.
As reported in U.S. News, the researchers determined that 7.2% of women executives in the survey left their jobs, compared to 3.8% of men. This consisted of both voluntary and involuntary
departures. Read the entire article here.
The researchers suggested that women in mid-level management may not be getting the opportunities and support that they need to advance. They also concluded that gender discrimination wasn’t at work “at an obvious level.”
Based on my research writing Sun Tzu for Women: The Art of War for Winning in Business, I think there’s more to the story when it comes to women choosing to leave executive positions. Women have been starting businesses at twice the rate of men in recent years, even in a down economy. This demonstrates that we aren’t as risk averse as is often mistakenly believed.
How Important is Independence?
Women voluntary leave executive positions for a lot of reasons, from personal to professional. But one of the big ones is something to which many of us can relate: the quest for independence. In my research (and personal experience), this is the reason most women leave corporate careers to start their own businesses—or even to join other, often smaller, more hands-on teams.
It’s because they feel undervalued, underestimated and unsatisfied in their positions. The prolific Margaret Heffernan, a five time CEO, put it this way: “It is an existential flight to a place where who and what they are, how they like to work, and the things they care about are not just tolerated but are given a dynamic and central role.”
When I’m invited to speak, I ask the audience: Are you in a position where the things you care about matter and are given a central role? Are you able to put your passion in to play in your current positions? What does your passion and how you apply it to your work say about you?
For more on this topic, check out Can You Be Successful in Your Businesses’ Culture?