Female executives twice likely to leave their jobs as men

Last Updated: Oct 05, 2010, 13:45 PM IST

Washington: Female executives are more than twice as likely to leave their jobs – voluntarily and involuntarily – as men, a new study has found.

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

Lead author John Becker-Blease, an assistant professor of finance at Oregon State University, and his co-authors at Loyola Marymount University and Trinity College, analyzed data from Standard & Poor’s 1500 firms. They classified departures as voluntary or involuntary based on careful examination of public news accounts accompanying an executive’s departure.

“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. Both the voluntary rates (4.3 percent versus 2.8 percent for men) and the involuntary rates (2.9 versus 0.9 percent) were higher for women executives.

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.

As for the higher rate of being dismissed from a job, Becker-Blease said research suggests that women at the mid-levels of management may not be getting the kind of opportunities and professional support that they need to advance successfully to the top ranks.

The study is featured in October’s issue of Economic Inquiry.