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The Top 4 Predictors of Women’s Overall Job Satisfaction

What makes women want to stay at their jobs—and leave for other opportunities

By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

We wanted to understand what elements of a job are most likely to predict women’s job satisfaction, not just what women say they want most from their employers (we looked at that, too). What needs, when met, are most likely to indicate a woman is happy in her work?

We queried our database to understand which of our 16 factors, when ranked highly, are most likely to indicate a woman will also rate her overall job satisfaction highly.

We found that the top factors are related to security and are areas where employers—and the American workplace—is failing professional women.

The top 4 predictors of women’s overall job satisfaction

1. The people you work with

2. Employer responsiveness

3. Equal opportunities for women and men

4. Salary satisfaction

Consider these factors indicative of a woman’s professional, physical, and financial security. With respectful coworkers and an employer who has their back paired with professional opportunity, both hierarchically and financially, women are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

1. The people you work with: respectful, professional, and unbiased coworkers

Workplace culture has a profound influence when it comes to an employee’s ability to thrive and succeed in the workplace. When coworkers contribute to a culture of inclusion and equality, women are more likely to find satisfaction in their jobs.

Most women are familiar with the realities of workplace discrimination. Just a snapshot: Women are paid less than their male counterparts, are less likely to sit in the c-suite and on boards, and are disproportionately affected by sexual harassment in the workplace.

Mothers who also do paid work are in a unique position—being less likely to be promoted and get raises and more likely to be judged as unlikable, uncommitted, and incompetent than are their male counterparts and female coworkers without children. In fact, 32 percent of mothers say they have experienced workplace discrimination because of their parental status.

2. Employer responsiveness: how companies respond when issues like sexual harassment and safety are escalated

Not only are respectful and professional colleagues indicative of a woman’s overall job satisfaction, so is an employer that listens and responds quickly and professionally when workplace problems are identified.

It’s estimated that as much as 80 percent of women will experience sexual harassment in the workplace at some point during their careers. Illegal practices like gender discrimination and sexual harassment come with a psychological and economic cost: 46 percent of women say that sexual harassment has caused them to leave jobs and even careers, which often means taking a pay cut as well.

And concerns of employer responsiveness go beyond sexual harassment. Eighty-two percent of women say that knowledge of a gender pay gap at a specific company would negatively affect their interest in working there.

3. Equal opportunities for women and men: promotions, leadership roles, salary increases, and incentive programs, etc.

Gender discrimination in the workplace can begin with a woman’s first job. A 2017 study from McKinsey found that more men than women are hired at entry level, despite the fact that women comprise 57 percent of recent college graduates. And at every level of a company, women are less likely than men to be promoted. The result is that only 20 percent of c-suite positions are held by women, and only 3 percent are held by women of color.

Similarly, a Visier study found that women in management positions are 22 percent more likely than men in management positions to be considered “top performers,” and yet women under the age of 40 are less likely than their male peers to receive promotions (read: the motherhood penalty).

4. Salary satisfaction: which includes bonuses, merit increases, cost of living adjustments, and overall compensation

Salary satisfaction is what we call one of the “bread-and-butter” benefits. When it comes to what women identify as wanting most from their employers, it ranks second only to paid time off. It’s one of those job factors that allows a woman to create the life and career she wants. But in March 2019, our data found only 11 percent of women are very satisfied with their pay, and less than 30 percent are satisfied with their pay at all.

In 2019, women are paid about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. For most women of color, the pay gap is significantly larger. The problem is clear, but women are not seeing sufficient efforts to close this gender pay gap. A survey InHerSight conducted in March 2019 found 83 percent of women say American businesses aren’t doing enough to close the gender pay gap, and 69 percent say their current employer isn’t doing enough to address its pay gap.


The top predictors are based on InHerSight's user reviews of more than 100K companies in the United States. Data accurate as of March 2019.

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