Salary Is the No. 1 Reason 30-Something Women are Leaving Their Jobs

By Meredith Lepore

Your 30s is a very exciting time. It is when many women's careers really start to take off. Coincidentally, it also when many women decide to start families. In past decades this has led to many women in this age group leaving the workforce. Data shows that 30-something women are still making exits from their current jobs, but now it is for a different reason. According to new a study based on a survey of around 300 people worldwide aged 22-to-35 about why they tend to leave their jobs five to 10 years after college, there seems to be one main culprit: salary. 

The study was published by the International Consortium for Executive Development Research, a group of 40 companies and 25 business schools focused on leadership and talent management. More women than men cited the answer, "I found a job elsewhere that pays more" as the top reason for switching roles. In total, 65 percent of women gave that as the main reason, versus 56 percent of men. This was followed by "There are not enough opportunities for learning and development for me here," "The work here is not as interesting and meaningful as I would like," and "There is not a fair balance between how hard I work and the compensation I receive." Now women did rank spending more time with family on their list, but they ranked it after all these reasons. It really comes down to them knowing they are not getting compensated enough.

Christie Hunter Arscott writes in The Harvard Business Review that business leaders should make it a point to ask women why they’re quitting their job instead of just assuming why, and incorporate those answers into their strategy. "While options for flexibility and work-life balance are important, the bottom line is that motherhood is not the primary reason why talented women are leaving organizations. Focusing retention strategies on this alone, without also considering pay and compensation fairness, will ultimately jeopardize retention and advancement efforts," she writes.

Clearly there is a lot of assuming going on here, but at the same time women have to work on their salary negotiation skills (prepare your checklist here.) An often-cited study by Linda Babcock called Women Don't Ask, argued that a woman who fails to negotiate her salary upon being hired could lose over $500,000 during her career. Always #ask4more.

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