Reasons for Women to Leave the IT Workforce
Peter Hoonakker (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA), Pascale Carayon (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA) and Jen Schoepke (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)
Copyright: © 2006
Turnover has been a major issue among information technology (IT) personnel since the very early days of computing as well as nowadays (Moore, 2000; Niederman & Summer, 2003). IT personnel have a strong tendency to frequently switch employers. Annual turnover in the information systems (IS) field ranged between 15% and 20% during the 1960s and the early 1970s. In the late 1970s, the turnover was as high as 28% annually and around 20% in the early 1980s. By the 1990s, the turnover rate reached 25 to 33% annually (Jiang & Klein, 2002). Many large American companies had a 25 to 33% turnover rate among their IS personnel in the late 1990s (Hayes, 1998). Although women represent an increasingly important segment of the labor force, their turnover rate can exceed 2½ times the turnover rate of men (Chusmir, 1982; Cotton & Tuttle, 1986; Davis & Kuhn, 2003; Giacobbe Miller & Wheeler, 1992; Schwarz, 1989). A meta-analysis by Cotton & Tuttle (1986) of 120 datasets showed strong evidence for gender differences in turnover: women are more likely to leave their job than men. Gender differences in turnover are less consistent among nonmanagerial and nonprofessional employees, and are stronger among professional (Cotton & Tuttle, 1986). However, recent evidence suggests that educated women start resembling men with regard to turnover rate and pattern (Griffeth, Hom, & Gaertner, 2000; Royalty, 1998). Educated women are more likely to leave to take on another job, while less educated women are more likely to abandon the labor force (Royalty, 1998). Furthermore, part of the higher turnover rates for women can be explained by individual variables that turnover studies conducted by economists and focused on industry do not consider, such as age, tenure, marital status, occupation and salary (Giacobbe Miller & Wheeler, 1992). In this chapter, we look at gender differences in reasons why IT personnel want to leave their job, and in their intentions once they have left their job.