Women re-entering the labour market

Women stepping out of the workforce to raise a family should already be planning their comeback, according to a recent study conducted under advisement from the Wharton Centre for Leadership and Change in the U.S.

The researchers found that many women who left the workforce changed employers or careers when they returned:

  • Some 61 per cent changed industries, while 54 per cent changed functional roles.

  • Some 83 per cent accepted a position at a comparable or lower level to where they left, while 45 per cent are self-employed.

  • When obstacles and surprises arise during the re-entry process, 59 per cent of step-outs decide to turn to smaller companies for the next phase of their careers.

    The lack of ongoing education and career counselling for women managers and MBA alumnae makes it virtually impossible for women re-entering a fast-paced business environment to present themselves as having updated skills, say observers. Women can help themselves by taking specific steps before they decide to step out; during their hiatus and after the job search begins.

    For example, they can:

  • Create a re-entry plan similar to their ongoing leadership development plan.

  • Volunteer while they are away.

  • Stay connected to colleagues despite the difficulty in scheduling and interests.

  • Maintain professional licences and memberships and attend continuing educational experiences.

    Companies need to realise that these women are well educated. Although they've been out of the workforce for some time, they're also fresh, eager and not burned-out, say researchers.

    "Baby boomers are on the brink of retiring in droves and leaving behind the largest labour shortage in history," said Monica McGrath, Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Wharton School of Business, who headed the study. "Now is not the time for corporations to squander billions of dollars in talent and enthusiasm at their fingertips."

    Source: Cheryl Hall, Returning to work after a long break, Dallas Morning News, August 16, 2005; and Monica McGrath, Back In The Game: Returning to Business after a Hiatus, Wharton Centre for Leadership and Change, July 15, 2005.

    For text (subscription required): http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/columnists/chall/stories/081705dnbusHall.122bfdaf.html

    For study text: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/papers/1298.pdf

    For more on Workforce Participation: Women: http://www.ncpa.org/iss/eco/

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 30 August 2005
  • Help FMF promote the rule of law, personal liberty, and economic freedom become an individual member / donor HERE ... become a corporate member / donor HERE