Women’s History Month is in full swing, celebrating women’s contributions and achievements in everything from politics to the arts.
It’s also an acknowledgement that in many aspects of life, such as employment, women and men haven’t always been treated equally. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed many of the workplace inequities women in the U.S. face, especially when it comes to balancing career and family responsibilities.
In March, ResumeBuilder.com surveyed 1,250 women 25 and older who are either currently employed or unemployed but looking for work. We asked about their perspectives on equal pay, paid family leave, female leadership, and more. The results provide insights into what female workers are prioritizing in 2022.
- 37% of women who are currently employed are looking for a new job
- 63% of those looking for new employment are doing so to find better paying positions
- 75% of women consider a company’s maternity and family leave policies when applying for jobs
- 89% of women say it’s important to them that their employers have women in leadership roles
6 in 10 women job-seekers are looking for higher-paid positions
Eighty-six percent of the women we surveyed are currently employed, while 14% are unemployed but looking for work.
Among the women who are currently employed, 37% are actively looking for a new job, with women between the ages of 25-34 most likely to be seeking new employment opportunities. Forty-eight percent of women in this age group are applying for jobs, compared to 38% of women 35-44, 31% of women 45-54, and 24% of women 55 and older.
The top reason why currently employed women are looking for a new job is they want to earn more money. Sixty-three percent of currently employed job-hunters are looking for a new position that pays better.
According to career counselor and executive recruiter Stacie Haller, the “Great Reassessment” that’s swept through the American labor force has a lot to do with why so many women are seeking new jobs.
“Women have realized there are new opportunities as more and more employers are hearing what women want, which includes equal pay and benefits that directly affect their day-to-day lives,” Haller says. “With the current focus on attracting and retaining talent, women have more flexibility and options than ever before.”
Meanwhile, 53% of women who are currently employed and not looking for a new job say it’s because they’re satisfied with their current salary and position, indicating the importance of fair pay in retaining employees.
7 in 10 women will only accept a job if they are paid the same as male counterparts
The majority of women aren’t just concerned with earning more than they are in their current position; they want to ensure they’re getting paid as much as the men at their companies.
Eighty-five percent of women say that when applying for jobs, it’s ‘very important’ that they’re offered the same salary as a male counterpart for the same position. Thirteen percent say equal pay is ‘somewhat important.’
However, it appears that women still face challenges in putting this desire for equal pay into practice. When asked what they would do if they were offered a job, and discovered a male counterpart was earning a higher salary for a similar position, 22% of women say they would accept the job offer regardless of pay inequality.
Seventy-one percent of women would only accept the job if the employer offered them a salary equal to what a man was earning for the same role. Seven percent would turn down the job, even if the employer increased the salary.
“This exemplifies the old expression, ‘the squeaky wheel gets oiled’,” Haller says. “We are still fighting against biases, and the women who are confident enough to be outspoken on the need for pay equity will be the ones who earn the income they deserve.”
Haller also adds that there is information available for women to better understand what they should be earning for this labor.
“There are many salary surveys online, published annually, that show the average salary for a particular position by region, city, or state,” she says. “It’s always good for job-seekers to understand the pay scales, so they have a baseline of where their salary should be based on experience and location. This can be used as a guideline when discussing salary with potential employers.”
High-income earners more likely than low-income women to insist on equal pay
Our survey indicated there may be a correlation between women who place importance on equal pay and those who actually earn higher salaries.
Ninety percent of women who earn $50,000 or more annually say getting paid equally is ‘very important’ to them, while 9% say it’s ‘somewhat important. One percent say it’s ‘not at all important.’
Meanwhile, 82% of women who earn less than $50,000 annually say equal pay is ‘very important.’ Fifteen percent say it’s ‘somewhat important,’ and 3% say it’s ‘not at all important.’
Seventy-six percent of women who earn $50,000 or more per year will only accept a job if their salary is equal to that of a male co-worker in the same position, compared to 66% of women who earn less than $50,000 annually.
Twenty-five percent of low-income women will accept the job even if they are being paid less, compared to 19% of women who earn more than $50,000 annually.
3 in 4 women consider companies’ family and maternity leave policies when job-hunting
The U.S. is one of only a handful of countries that doesn’t guarantee paid parental leave at the national level. This leaves individual companies to determine how much – if any – paid leave they give parents.
Women workers are paying attention. Forty-two percent of respondents say that when they’re applying for jobs a company’s maternity/family leave policies are ‘very important,’ while 33% say they’re ‘somewhat important.’
Among currently employed women who are seeking a new job, 31% say it’s because they want to work for a company that offers better benefits, like maternity/family leave and healthcare.
Women are also nearly six times more likely to be looking for remote work, which typically offers more flexibility and allows working mothers to be at home with children, than in-person work, by a rate of 32% to 6%.
Maternity and family leave policies are important to 90% of Millennial women
Not surprisingly, the importance of maternity and family leave policies increases among women who are of child-bearing age, particularly women ages 25-34.
Among this group, 56% say these policies are ‘very important,’ while 34% say they’re ‘somewhat important.’
By comparison, only 16% of women 55 and older say these policies are ‘very important,’ 31% say they’re ‘somewhat important,’ and 53% say they’re ‘not at all important.’
Women who don’t have children are nearly twice as likely as those who do to consider maternity and family leave policies unimportant, by a rate of 33% to 18%. Fifty percent of women with children say these policies are ‘very important,’ compared to 32% of childless women.
Flexible schedule top list of desired family-friendly policies
Among the women who indicated that maternity and family leave policies are important to them, the number one policy they value is flexible schedules that allow them to take time off for family needs. This was the number one priority, regardless of age, parental status, and socioeconomic status.
Health insurance for dependents ranked number two as the most important family policy, followed by the ability to work remotely or in-person, paid maternity leave, and on-site daycare.
“Regardless of whether it’s labeled maternity leave or flexible schedules, what women want is to be able to determine their own work/life balance, and control their day-to-day lives in a way that works best for them,” Haller says. “Women are capable of being accomplished at work and more in control of their lives when they can decide their own work hours and what schedule works best for them and their families.”
Haller also points out that maternity leave may only be important to women who are planning on having a baby in the future, while flexible schedules remain beneficial throughout the whole time they are raising children.
The question of how much paid maternity leave mothers should receive has also been hotly debated. The plurality of respondents, 44%, say 12 weeks is ideal. Twenty-three percent think 24 weeks is most suitable, while 18% think 6 weeks is ideal, and 13% want 52 weeks.
89% women job-seekers want to work for companies with female leadership
Women job-seekers are also paying attention to who is in management positions at the companies to which they are applying.
Forty-nine percent of women say it’s ‘very important’ that their employer has women in leadership roles, while 40% say it’s ‘somewhat important.’
When asked why this is important, 59% of women say it both demonstrates that the company values women’s abilities and knowledge, and creates a more equitable work environment. Fifty-seven percent want to work for these companies because it indicates that they’ll have opportunities for advancement within the company.
All data found within this report derives from a survey commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by survey platform Pollfish. In total, 1,250 women ages 25 and older were surveyed. To qualify for the survey, each respondent had to either be currently employed, or unemployed by looking for work. Appropriate respondents were found via Pollfish’s screening tools. This survey was conducted over a two-day span, starting on March 4, 2022 and ending on March 6, 2022. All respondents were asked to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their abilities. For full survey data, please email Marketing Content Specialist Kristen Scatton at [email protected].