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What Early Career Women Want Most at Work

And what this demographic is least likely to look for in an employer

By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

InHerSight took a closer look at women early in their careers—what they’re looking for in their employment and what employers can do to attract this demographic.

We studied the self-reported data of women ages 20 to 25, the traditional early stage-career demographic, to better understand what they are most likely, and least likely, to want from their employers. 

Women ages 20 to 25 are most likely to look for

  1. Paid time off: Sick days, vacation days, and personal days

  2. Flexible work hours: Ability to set your schedule as long as you get your work done

  3. Management opportunities for women: Your chances of becoming a manager of teams and talent

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

Paid time off and flexible work hours are what we consider two of the bread-and-butter benefits for women—time away from work when they need it allows women the freedom to build the lives they want. We find that regardless of age, these are two of the most important factors women seek in a job, and these are the two most important benefits working mothers want from their employers.

In addition to flexible working hours, liberal paid time off policies are becoming a popular means of attracting talent. While only 4 percent of employers offer unlimited PTO, major employers like Netflix, GrubHub, and HubSpot have all adopted unlimited PTO policies. 

Flexible schedules are seeing a similar rise in popularity, and data underlines their performance benefits. A 2019 report from Gallup says workers who spend 60 to 80 percent of their time away from the office have the highest rates of engagement. Research also shows that flexible schedules are a key attractor and retainer for young talent. Companies like Salesforce and Patagonia now offer both flexible work schedules and unlimited paid time off

Management opportunities and equal opportunities are indicative of this young demographic’s focus on career advancement 

Regardless of age, the availability of equal opportunities for women and men is one of the top predictors of women’s overall job satisfaction

Women early in their careers are not likely to look for 

  • Salary satisfaction: Salary, merit increases, cost of living adjustments, overall comp

  • Sponsorship or mentorship programs: Official mentorship program, women-focused initiatives, or affiliate groups

  • Family growth support: Access to dedicated lactation rooms, child care, expense reimbursement, etc.

  • The ability to telecommute: Flexibility to work remotely

  • Employer responsiveness: Effective channels for elevating issues and concerns

While it is surprising that this demographic of women does not highly value employer responsiveness relative to other factors, women in their early 20s are more likely than any other age group to value employer responsiveness, though it is still a small minority of young women who are looking for this.

It should be noted that both employer responsiveness and salary satisfaction are two of the top predictors of women’s overall job satisfaction, so while these factors may not be necessary to attract young talent, they will be necessary to retain them.


Factors are based on a sample set of InHerSight users aged 20–25. Employer ratings accurate as of July 1, 2019.

InHerSight is a company ratings platform for women with ratings and reviews of more than 100K companies in the United States.

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By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

Content Strategist, InHerSight

Emily is on staff at InHerSight where she researches and writes about data that describes women in the workplace, women's compensation and contract literacy, and women's rights in the workplace. 

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