Factors That Impact Women’s Careers After They Take Extended Leave

A new review, coauthored by Jia Wang, a professor of educational administration and human resource development at Texas A&M University, has identified five factors that can affect a woman’s career after leaving the workforce for a period of time.

1. Career attitudes and trajectories: Wang’s research shows that women’s perceptions of career, family and self have a significant impact on their career decisions.

2. Wage penalties: Women may earn lower hourly wages compared to their coworkers as a result of career interruptions.

3. Organizational culture: Maternal workplace discrimination can be rampant in some organizations.

4. Government policies: Family policies vary among governments due to historical, economic, cultural and societal differences across the world.

5. Family practice: A partner’s support plays a vital role in women’s decisions to go back to work, and equally important is a more unbiased division of domestic work and childcare responsibilities.

Dr. Wang states that “across the world, we see efforts being made by women to break socially gendered schemas, to persevere in light of challenges they face, and to have career self-agency. These efforts are applaudable and must continue.”

For organizations, Wang said creating a supportive culture and women-friendly policies are critical to women’s return to the workplace. She advises organizations to start at the top when changing culture and formulating policies. “Top leaders of the organization must model their support for women’s effort to come back to work,” Dr. Wang said. “A policy, no matter how good it is, is ineffective, unless implemented rigorously.”

Dr. Wang earned a Ph.D. in human resource and organizational development from the University of Georgia.

The study, “Women’s Career Interruptions: An Integrative Review,” was published in the European Journal of Training and Development. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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