What Women, Men Want From Work, According to New Research


Mar 7, 2022


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Ask anyone what they could change about their jobs, and better pay will slingshot its way back to you as a universal answer. But as work culture witnesses tectonic shifts, the aspirations from work vary across genders. Women, according to a new poll, are more likely to value factors like work-life balance and diversity within the company.

“There are meaningful differences in what women want in their next jobs and how important those factors are to them,” Gallup wrote in the report. In other words, a gender gap exists in how employees perceive work.

The survey conducted in October last year weighed in responses of more than 13,000 knowledge workers in the U.S., asking them what they want in their next job. Unsurprisingly, pay and emotional well-being at work have risen in importance for people. Notably, the onus men and women placed on these factors varied; with pay being important but not everything for women. For instance, one in two women said diversity and inclusion policies of the company were very important factors to consider — a similar belief was shared by three in 10 men.

Other value points that are featured in their priority list include greater work-life balance; allowing a person to do what they do best; greater job security. It’s not only the components that come in this list, but how much weight people give them. “Work-life balance is just as important to women (66%) as an increase in income or benefits (65%) — and both are highly important.”

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“The factors that women are considering when deciding whether or not to take a job, they’re considering with more intensity,” said Kristin Barry, director of hiring analytics at Gallup. “It really is a ‘both, and.’ Pay that doesn’t also offer work-life balance and benefits of well-being — it isn’t going to cut it for women.”

Arguably, there is no one trend that sweeps the workforce; women across different cultures value different things and have unique motivations. But the current analysis hints at gendered differences in these aspirations, and it is important to identify them to better help prioritize women’s interests.

The findings are also pertinent in a pandemic setting, where women have suffered disproportionate job and income losses. This is due to a number of reasons — lack of flexible work, increased caregiving responsibilities, and fewer employment opportunities. According to the International Labor Organization, fewer women will regain employment than men during the pandemic recovery phase as well. It then becomes a critical ask to look at women’s priorities at work.

Samantha Ritter, a 33-year-old new mother, finds herself resonating with this idea. “It’s just the acknowledgment that I can come first and my job doesn’t. I didn’t know how much I needed that,” she said.

Something like a work-life balance, for instance, evidently impacts women more. According to a 2016 report, women were found to be doing 50% more unpaid work at home than men — this number could be much higher in relatively more conservative societies like India. Moreover, “working women also report higher on-the-job burnout than working men do, and the gender gap in burnout has only widened during the pandemic,” the company noted.

Buzzwords like flexibility don’t cut it anymore; companies will have to be more deliberate and measured in their approach to integrating women into the workforce. Better pay is just one of the fundamental ask.


Written By Saumya Kalia

Saumya Kalia is an Associate Editor at The Swaddle. Her journalism and writing explore issues of social justice, digital sub-cultures, media ecosystem, literature, and memory as they cut across socio-cultural periods. You can reach her at @Saumya_Kalia.


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