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Why Women Leave Top Jobs and the Toll of Extreme Jobs

April 20, 2007
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Related Topics: Work/Life Balance, Retention, Featured Article
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WHY DO WORKERS EXIT THE FAST LANE?

Survey data show that women and men take career "off ramps" for dramatically different reasons. While men leave the workforce mainly to reposition themselves for a career change, the largest portion of women leave to attend to responsibilities at home.

TOP FIVE REASONS WOMEN LEAVE THE FAST LANE

Family time44%
Earn a degree, other training23
Work not enjoyable/satisfying17
Moved away17
Change careers16

TOP FIVE REASONS MEN LEAVE THE FAST LANE

Change careers29%
Earn a degree, other training25
Work not enjoyable/satisfying24
Not interested in field18
Family time12
Note: totals add up to more than 100 percent because respondents were allowed to cite multiple reasons.
Source: "Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success," Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce, Harvard Business Review, March 2005.

THE TOLL OF EXTREME JOBS

While many holders of "extreme" jobs, marked by long hours and high stress, say they like the challenge and the thrill of their deadline-driven 24/7 careers, they also say their work interferes with:
 

Men

Women
Being able to maintain my home66%77%
Having a strong relationship with my
children
6533
Having a strong relationship with my spouse/partner4646
Having a satisfying sex life4953
Source: "Big Picture: Extreme Jobs--the dangerous allure of the 70-Hour Workweek," Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce, Harvard Business Review, December 2006.

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