Women are 56% less geographically mobile than men

It is well documented that women earn, over the course of their careers, around 9% less than men in the UK. The scale of the problem is such that PWC estimate that closing the gender pay gap would boost the UK’s female earnings by £80 billion. One of the key drivers in the labour market is recruitment. This controls who enters, and at what price. We therefore wanted to have a look at the different ways men and women behave on movemeon.

We analysed the preferences (i.e., the jobs candidates on the site said they were looking for) for 20,000 ex-consultants. From this analysis, it’s clear that men and women are searching for jobs very differently.

On average, women were far more geographically targeted (56% fewer countries), selected 10% fewer industries and functions, and 11% narrower salary ranges. On top of this, they behave differently on the site: they are 9% less likely to have their anonymised profile searchable, but 11% more likely to have job alerts set-up. Whilst more proactive, this method of searching will mean they will only see opportunities that they think match their skills and preferences.

These differences might disadvantage women as they face a restricted pool of opportunities and push much of the burden of the search onto themselves. It’s clear that employers will have to do more to reach women, and as such should develop some clear strategies to ensure they are doing everything they can to attract applications from women.


The analysis

We looked at the behaviour of 20,000 ex-consultants on the site, and drew out the differences between how women and men were behaving on the site.


Percentage difference in number of search categories selected by women as compared to men

There were three clear trends:

  • Women were looking at 56% fewer locations
  • Women were 10% narrower with their search when they selected industry, function and salary preferences
  • Women were less likely to have their profile searchable and allow employers to approach them

We’ll now walk through each of these trends, and identify some of the potential drivers.


Location, location, location

We were amazed that women had, on average, 56% fewer location preferences selected than men. We have previously looked at the extent to which consultants can be thought of as incredibly mobile. We concluded that this was a big advantage in a labour market of uneven growth and particular demands for skills. Therefore, if women are less geographically mobile on movemeon, this advantage is limited.

The causes of this are complicated and hard to identify. In literature we’ve read, the dual-role for women, partnered with potentially different risk appetites, could be drivers. Our analysis drew similar conclusions when we found that men tend to be a lot more confident that they are of the sufficient quality to overcome any shortcomings against requirements of the job.

There’s also a compelling argument of very different social pressures on men and women at this stage of life. Typically consultants are looking to move in their early 30s, and as such it’s common that these job movers are at the stage of life where they are considering starting a family. Given more women take career breaks to raise children, it is hardly surprising that they would be less globally mobile.


Knowing your strengths

Women select 6% fewer industries, 9% fewer functions and 11% fewer salaries than men. This is potentially driven by a more focused approach to their search. This hypothesis is again supported by earlier analysis on  why women are so much more effective at applying for positions than their male counter parts.


Proactive or wasted energy?

It is also the case that women are putting more of the burden of finding jobs on themselves. We found that they were 9% less likely to make themselves searchable for employers but 8% more likely to have job alerts enabled than men were.

Women are therefore less accessible for employers, who cannot approach a candidate unless they are searchable. As we regularly see in the marketplace, candidates aren’t the best judges of roles that suit their profiles. By not allowing employers to approach, a discovery channel is dramatically removed. Further to this, given that one in three candidates invited to apply to a role are interviewed, this is cutting out an extremely effective channel.


What can we do?

The trends are simple, the causes are anything but. Whilst we’ve made a few suggested hypotheses above, we’re more interested in how we can look to reduce these discrepancies.

There’s some key areas for employers to focus on when advertising roles to help address these discrepancies. Firstly, given women are looking in a more targeted manner, make sure you categorise your job correctly. If you’re prepared to offer a wide salary range, or multiple locations, best to post separate roles to ensure all seniorities are covered.

Secondly, worth heading the advice on writing more gender balanced job descriptions:

  • Survey (or ask!) current female staff to get a better understanding of what they are looking for in a new job in your industry, and thus in a new job description.
  • Specifically explain that the business is actively targeting women (e.g., explaining about women leadership programs; what’s provided to help manage a dual-life).
  • Test what actually works: as we always find, adding data helps remove ambiguity. Test different hooks, salaries, etc. and run different ads to A/B test
  • Look to take more women through to interview (target a 50:50 short-list for all roles). Our analysis suggests they put higher levels of consideration into applying and are outperforming men at interview!


By Adam


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