For many people, they have a dream job – but that job isn’t always located in the same place they live. Both men and women choose to relocate for their jobs, but overall, women move for work in significantly lower numbers than men. According to one report, 60% of men have moved for a job, but only 31% of women have. So why are women more hesitant to relocate?
The trend of moving for work is declining overall
Millennials are much less likely than their parents to move for work. There may be several reasons for this; with a tight housing market, being able to sell a current home and buy a new one may be complicated. The ability to work remotely in more and more fields may reduce the need to move to a new place to keep up with your dream job. And workers are more interested than ever in working for a company that has values and commitments similar to theirs. That may mean prioritizing the job with the small, local business over the big corporate dream.
Tech and engineering job seekers are most likely to want to move.
According to the Harvard Business Review, job seekers in the tech and engineering industries are those most likely to move for an exciting new position. Women are disproportionately working in lower skilled fields, so moving may be less necessary.
Men are less likely to be “trailing spouses”
When one person in a relationship decides to move for their work, their family must choose whether or not to go with them. If they do, the spouse is referred to as a “trailing spouse,” meaning that they are following along and must also find a new job in the new city.
Men tend to work in fields where they need to be in a particular location – again, focusing on STEM fields and similar industries. Women, however, tend to work in jobs that can be found anywhere: school teachers, pharmacists, social workers, and nurses, for example.
Because of this, women who do have the opportunity to move for work may feel that they are facing social stigma if they do so. They may worry that their family won’t survive the move, since their spouse may be unable to or unwilling to leave their job, if it is geographically related.
Closer ties to family and friends
Women stereotypically have closer ties to their families and social circles than men do. Even with the advent of social media and group chats, some women may feel like they’re leaving their friends behind if they move, especially if the rest of the friend group stays in the same metro area. Men may be willing to travel home for holidays and focus on working and building a new social circle in their new city.
So when do women move for work?
Women who work in fields that are traditionally male dominated – software engineering, for example – may be more willing to move where the jobs are. That said, they may often choose to avoid place like Silicon Valley and find other areas – like Austin, Texas or Richmond, Virginia – which have a reputation for being friendlier to the needs of women entrepreneurs.
Women may also move to be closer to friends and family. Since women are often caretakers, both for any children they may have and for aging parents, they may need to move closer to their parents in order to make sure their golden years are safe and happy. In some cases, women are able to move their parents closer to them, but that’s not always possible.
More than half of people who do move for work move because they’ve been offered a promotion or a raise that goes along with the move. So when women do move, it makes sense that this is because they’ve got a great job opportunity that they won’t turn down.
Why does this matter?
Companies need to carefully focus their recruitment efforts. The numbers appear to show that the most gender diverse talent pool will come from focusing on local labor forces. The more companies try to recruit from a broader metro area, the more likely they are to get primarily male candidates for jobs. Having a diverse team of executives, including gender, ethnicity, and sexuality, has been shown to create a more agile and profitable company.
Businesses therefore should consider where they can place their headquarters to create the most diverse possible job pool. If they do find themselves in a place where their primary job applicants are white men, they might consider a strong recruitment effort for remote workers, specifically targeting women in the field. Women get the benefit of staying where they are to do their dream job, while companies get the benefit of having a more diverse labor force and creating a better business culture at the same time.
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