Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
Updated: Feb 28
AVA is a learning community for professional women. We provide accessible, affordable content to help you learn the skills you need to Assess, Visualize, and Advance your career - by your definition.
We originally wrote this blog back in 2020. Now, more than ever, it is still relevant and we've updated it with timely data and information.
According to the findings from the 2022 McKinsey/Leanin.org annual study of women in the workplace, "we’re in the midst of a 'Great Breakup'. Women are demanding more from work, and they’re leaving their companies in unprecedented numbers to get it."
You may be pondering your current job and whether it is right for you. "Should I stay at my current job" or "should I leave my job" are questions we often hear because of the difficulties women uniquely face in their career. Here are some tips and tools that might help you make a decision for your future career happiness.
Women Face Toxic Work Situations
Women are statistically more likely to end up in a bad work culture. Gender disparity, wage inequality, and toxicity are to blame. Male toxicity has come to the forefront of work discussions, especially since the #metoo movement. However, women unfairly and ironically also face female toxicity, where women hurt other women who want to advance at work.
According to a Pew Research Center report, 42% of women say they have experienced some form of gender discrimination in the workplace.
In many companies, they also experience micro aggressions that undermine their authority and signal that it will be harder for them to advance—such as having colleagues question their judgment or imply that they aren’t qualified for their jobs.
The Broken Rung
The “broken rung”, a reference to the corporate ladder, is the lack of upward mobility for women due to inherent bias by men responsible for workplace promotions; men hold 62% of all managerial positions, while females represent only 38%.
Among employees who switched jobs in the past two years, 48% of women leaders say they did so because they wanted more opportunity to advance. McKinsey/Leain.org
Overworked And Underpaid
Perhaps the biggest regression for women during COVID is this one. Women have been shouldering much of the at-home child care while working remotely. With blurred lines from virtual and remote work, companies are expecting continued work during non-work hours.
Women leaders are about 1.5X as likely as men leaders to have switched jobs because their workload was unmanageable.
43% of women leaders are burned out, compared to only 31% of men at their level. McKinsey/Leain.org
Women Are Leaving Work In Record Numbers
Combine the limitations of advancing their careers with the ongoing demands at work and home, and it’s hardly a wonder why women are leaving. As one women executive responded to the study: “For the first time in my career, we’re seeing people leaving and going to companies with a more generous work from home policy. So I dug into the data, and I realized something about every single person leaving. They were all women.”
Now, women leaders are leaving their companies at higher rates than ever before. To put the scale of the problem in perspective: for every woman at the director level who gets promoted, two women directors are choosing to leave their company. McKinsey/Leain.org
Should You Stay Or Should You Go?
At AVA we are focused on helping women advance in their career. However you set the definition of what “advance” means to you personally.
The dilemma for women is that leaving costs them time they don't have to network in their industry, research job opportunities, prepare their resume, and interview. It also brings the emotional ups and downs of being worried your current boss will find out, wondering if you are good enough to apply, getting hopeful, and getting let down. Worse yet, if you leave your job and end up somewhere just as toxic or for little difference in pay, it might not even have been worth it.
Assess Your Situation
There are many beneficial reasons to change jobs, such as more experience, financial gain, and better opportunity. The question of whether you have to leave arises when the majority of the time, you feel unhappy, depressed, thwarted, bored, resentful, misunderstood or even mistreated.
There are also many reasons to stay. Sometimes you can improve your situation by talking to your boss, changing bosses, switching departments, or even influencing a change in the environment.
Assessing your situation first takes the pressure off deciding and allows you to objectively look at where you are versus what you want. Take time to answer these questions about your current job:
Are the skills that you were hired to use for this job a fit for what you’re good at or enjoy? What we’re good at is not the same as what we love doing. If your job forces you to use skills that aren’t enjoyable or easy for you, you’ll be miserable and drained every day in your job.
Are the outcomes that you’re working toward meaningful and positive for you? You want to believe that the energy spent on the job is indeed worth it.
Do you agree with the values and morals of the company you're working for? The culture of a company may gradually change either for the better or the worse. Maybe the changes aren’t what you signed up for when you first took the job.
Are you severely undervalued and unappreciated? The term “undervalued” doesn’t only refer to money, although if you’re severely underpaid, that’s also a big problem, too. Instead, being undervalued is more of a problem if your accomplishments aren’t recognized or your ongoing work isn’t appreciated. Your boss and co-workers should see you as an integral part of the team and recognize you when you’ve done exceptional work.
Is your work environment tainted with extreme toxicity, including your boss and/or colleagues? Do you feel safe (psychologically and physically) at work? A toxic work culture is one where the workplace is plagued by fighting, drama and unhappy employees to the point that productivity and the well-being of the people in the office are impacted.
Staying or leaving is a very personal decision. It is dependent on what you are looking for, where you are in life, how thick your skin is and what kind of toll it is taking on you personally. It also depends a lot on the work environment. Here is a comparison of reasons compiled from generally given advice:
Visualize Your Options
Remote work has completely changed the work landscape. It has tipped the balance of power more in the employee's favor. And women are saying they prefer remote work because it reduces their chance of being subjected to toxicity, micro aggressions and bias. It also completely opens up the pool of jobs you can apply for if you decide to switch.
As you look at where you are now and how you are feeling about leaving or staying, think also about the possibilities. Where might you be able to go? More women than ever are not only leaving their jobs but they are leaving corporate all together.
Record numbers of women are becoming their own boss - either starting a consulting business or running their own start up.
With 60% of women small business owners stating that “being their own boss” was the reason why they started their business, it’s clear that a new era of entrepreneurism for women across the U.S is here. legalzoom
If you do decide you want to stay, you might consider starting a side hustle to help you move toward being financially independent. You could also consider what some are calling #quietquitting, which basically means you set stronger boundaries with your boss and company. Make sure your health comes first and you get as much benefit outside of work as you do at work.
We heard of a number of women taking a smaller but quicker step to reduce stress, a burnout break. It moves the the decision to stay or go off until they feel well and clear enough to make such a big life decision.
If burnout seems inevitable, try to take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave-of-absence, anything to remove yourself from the situation. helpguide.org
Advance According To Your Definition
Whatever your decision, be sure to weigh your options and put a plan together with steps, even if small, toward making your reality become clearer. If you are clear on your own needs and parameters, then you have more control of your situation. Working on your connections, being clear on your value and your goals, and keeping your resume up-to-date is something you can always do. That way you aren't overtaxing your time or effort whenever opportunities come your way.
At the end of the day, it’s your life, your career. No one owns that - not the company, not the economy, not society, not your family, not your spouse, not your coach, not your therapist, nor your boss - no one but you. So arm yourself with information and choose your path.
A passion project, AVA was founded based on our deep conviction that all women need to proactively help other women in the workplace - no matter what industry, level, background or career goal. We take an inclusive, solution-oriented, candid approach to sharing tools and skills for women to be engaged, satisfied and successful in their work. We provide accesible and affordable content and in-depth, safe workshops to learn and practice the tools and skills you need to Assess, Visualize, and Advance your career.
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