Men, women make career decisions for very different reasons: Survey

Major gaps with work-life balance, healthy workplace, job security
||Last Updated: 02/01/2011

Today's young women and men are making career decisions for very different reasons, according to a report based on the 2010 Canada's Top Campus Employers Survey of 27,779 university and college students.

When choosing a career, some of the biggest differences between women and men are work-life balance (63 per cent versus 51 per cent), a healthy workplace (62 per cent versus 45 per cent), job security (57 per cent versus 44 per cent), good people to work with (59 per cent versus 50 per cent), commitment to social responsibility (36 per cent versus 26 per cent) and a good health and benefits plan (50 per cent versus 35 per cent).

When it comes to career goals, women ranked the goal "Feel that I am serving a cause or greater good" far higher than men, at 78 per cent versus 67 per cent. Overall, the most important career goal for students is work-life balance followed by secure employment, being intellectually challenged, being creative and innovative at work and maximizing income.

However, women expect less when it comes to salary, according to the survey by Brainstorm Strategy Group and DECODE. The expected annual base salary after graduation is $50,589 for women and $58,641 for men. Five years after graduation, it is $74,587 for women and $97,725 for men.

This information is important for employers because the majority of graduates entering the workforce today are women, according to Graham Donald, president of Brainstorm in Victoria, B.C., and co-author of the study.

"The challenge is attracting and retaining a growing number of women by developing recruitment and retention strategies that are more in line with how women make their career decisions and what they want from their jobs."

When it comes to the biggest differences in preferred employment sectors, women are more interested in careers in health care (27 per cent versus 14 per cent), government or public service (26 per cent versus 21 per cent) and education or teaching (23 per cent versus 14 per cent).