Women executives twice as likely to quit jobs as men

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

WASHINGTON - Female executives are more than twice as likely as men to leave their jobs - voluntarily and involuntarily.

Yet despite systemic evidence that women are more likely to depart from their positions, researchers did not find strong patterns of discrimination.

Lead author John Becker-Blease, assistant professor of finance at the Oregon State University, and his co-authors at the Loyola Marymount University and Trinity College analysed data from Standard and Poor’s 1,500 firms, reports the journal Economic Inquiry.

They classified departures as voluntary or involuntary based on careful examination of public news accounts accompanying an executive’s departure, said an Oregon State release.

Departures of powerful female executives, as we saw with Carly Fiorina and Patricia Dunn at Hewlett-Packard, are often high-profile news events, Becker-Blease said.

Despite these very public departures, relatively little is really known about women executives, whether they are more likely to depart or be fired than men, and the reasons for their departures.

About 7.2 percent of women executives in the survey left their jobs, compared to 3.8 percent of men.

We really had to dig deep to tease out any systematic patterns behind these departures, Becker-Blease said.

We did find that women were slightly more likely to leave smaller firms, and firms with more male-dominated boards, but this was a small effect size.

Becker-Blease said research has shown that women are more likely to leave a job due to domestic or social responsibilities than men, which could explain the higher voluntary departure rate.

Companies with female executives tend to help grease the wheel for other women to rise in the ranks but women CEOs are still rare.

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