Sex, Ladders and Jungle Gyms.

Careers are a Jungle Gym, not a Ladder. – Sheryl Sandberg

It is generally acknowledged that career ladders are pretty much a thing of the past. Very few people [talent], see themselves being in the same organisation for 40 – 50 years, working their way through the ranks, till they finally get to the top. Careers these days are more of a jungle gym, swinging from industry to industry across different levels and trajectories.

A while ago, I was shortlisting candidates using a recruitment agency and to my stupendous surprise, some of the C.V’s I was given where of people I was already working with. I didn’t know that my own workmates where ready to take the proverbial swing. Which lead me to think, are people constantly looking for new opportunities, and if they are whose more likely to leave; men or women?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics in the 1980’s and early 1990’s women shows that women had significantly less tenure (3.6 years) than men (4 years), now whether this is because of ‘job hopping’ or other external circumstances such as work home balance issues or women not being readily recognized as part of the labor market at that time, is a cause for speculation. However, these trends are no longer true in recent years. A study,  found that married mothers are more likely to take the career ladder route as opposed to men and never-married women.

This might have interesting connotations for recruiters and talent managers. For example, married women with small children maybe seen as more of an asset than a liability as they are more likely to stick around than other cohorts. Furthermore, it’s interesting how work tenure for men was not affected by their marital status or parenthood status.

What are your thoughts on the effects of sexual differences on tenure?


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