Early Career Women Nearly Twice as Likely As Male Peers to Apply to a Job When They See Women in Leadership

A new survey by the largest early career network Handshake examines gender gaps in the hiring and recruiting of Generation Z

In new data published by Handshake, the largest early career network, Generation Z women are nearly twice as likely as male peers to say that seeing women in leadership roles at a company makes them more likely to apply to a job. As mid- or late-career women drop out of the workforce in unprecedented numbers during the pandemic, the ripple effect among young women may pose long-lasting challenges for employers seeking to build a diverse workforce.

“Women make up almost 60% of undergraduate students, and by 2030, Generation Z will make up a third of the workforce. As our country begins on a path to economic recovery, employers must pay close attention to this generation’s motivations, preferences, and concerns as they attract new talent,” said Christine Cruzvergara, vice president of higher education and student success at Handshake.

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The new report— “Handshake Network Trends Report: Gender, Equity, and Gen Z”—examines the factors that compel early talent to apply for certain jobs and choose between employers, providing valuable insights to employers as they work to build diverse talent pipelines amidst a quickly evolving job market.

“We know that for Gen Z, good intentions are not enough. They want proof that prospective employers’ practices align with their values,” said Lindsey Pollak, generational expert and New York Times best-selling author. “This survey surfaces several actionable insights for employers: promote women, and be transparent about your pay. Top talent is always in demand, and as employers put a stake in the ground on diversity and inclusion, they’ll be wise to listen to this next generation of hires – particularly, women and non-binary individuals.”

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Among the key findings:

  • If you want to hire more women, start by promoting women. 65% of Gen Z women look for women in leadership roles before applying for a job.
  • Diversity matters — and not just to women. More than half of respondents said they wouldn’t apply for a job at a company that lacked diversity. 75% of women — and 66% of men — say they are more likely to choose a company with a demonstrated commitment to a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workforce. And about half of respondents said they would leave a job if it did not meet their expectations for social justice or equity.
  • Meaningful work means more to women and non-binary individuals. Non-binary individuals ranked meaningful work as the most important factor when choosing to stay in a role, and women ranked it second. Men ranked meaningful work fourth.
  • But money still matters for recruiting and keeping talent. Women and men both ranked salary/compensation as the most important factor when choosing a job and employer. Women and men also say salary is the number one motivator for staying in a job.
  • Pay equity and transparency are an important signal: Gen Z overwhelmingly supports pay-transparency measures as a means of promoting equal pay for equal work and addressing the gender wage gap. The majority of our Gen Z respondents say that showing salary ranges makes them more likely to apply for a job. 62% of respondents say they’d be more likely to apply to a company if the company had a commitment to equal pay.
  • Culture holds currency in hiring– but not among prospective employees. “Culture fit” is a common hiring metric (and increasingly one that is under fire), but is relatively unimportant to Gen Z prospective employees. Only 7% of respondents said culture was the most important reason to stay in a job. And work culture did not rank as one of the top three most important job characteristics for men, women, or non-binary individuals.

The results come from a sample of 1,005 current college students ages 18-25, surveyed between March 5 – March 10, 2021. 50% of survey respondents self-identified as women,  46% as men and 3.5% as non-binary individuals.

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