So last week I gathered in Chicago with a group of accomplished women who make me feel positively small. Such awesomeness rarely gathers in this large of a group; some of these women even wore snazzier shoes than I did.
We slogged through the work of Vision2020's Second Congress. We all agreed on major strategies for the five national goals, especially the need to communicate problems of inequality. We also agreed that, in many cases, we still need to understand the root causes of inequality. Why do women earn a mere 77 cents for every dollar a man gets, a pay gap that increases with educational level? Why do women leave the workplace before they achieve senior leadership positions?
Over at Academic Women for Equality Now, I examined the "leaky" pipeline question today. There can no longer be a question that women leave corporate and academic worlds before retirement; the question now becomes the why. Three things have been suggested:
- Work-life balance makes mid-career women "choose" to step onto the mommy track, which may also be the elderly parent track
- As women evaluate themselves in middle life, they leave to follow their passions
- After years of subtle, perhaps unconscious, bias and a few bumps on the glass ceiling, women may take their toys to a sandbox they control
I am sure all of these influence women's choices. I am curious what you believe is the most important reason women leave their career path in mid life. Are there any other reasons they might choose to become a consultant or open a cupcake shop? What have we missed?