Career interruptions for women

According to a recent Bank of America study, Women, money, confidence—A lifelong relationship, more women than men leave the workforce at some time, predominantly to care for children or elderly parents.1 In fact, 58% of women who took time away did so to focus on caregiving, compared to 34% of men.1 For many women, leaving their jobs is a difficult decision; for others, it’s simply essential as women often serve as the primary caregivers.

Long employment gaps may put women at a financial and professional disadvantage, and it may be challenging for women to pick up where they left off once they are ready to return to work.

Many women are not able to go back to their same position, and one-third return to lower pay. During the years they are not working, they miss out on the opportunity to contribute to a workplace retirement plan and health savings account to help them financially prepare for the future. In addition, women who leave the workforce can’t benefit from on-the-job opportunities to sharpen their skills and knowledge, and this can impede their professional growth and chances for career advancement.

Supporting your employees

With an understanding of the impact job interruptions could have on women’s career and finances, it’s important for your employees to know where they can go for help and what they can do to be prepared. Employers can help support their employees by considering the following actions:

  • Offer educational resources highlighting the importance of planning for a potential career interruption and what steps they can take to prepare, such as creating an emergency fund or maximizing employer-sponsored retirement plans and health savings accounts.
  • Consider flexible scheduling that can help support employees who may be juggling caregiving responsibilities with their daily work.
  • Expand leave policies to provide women with “off and on ramps” that can make it easier for them to temporarily exit and then return to work.
  • Consider sponsoring employee networking groups to allow women to share experiences and learn from each other.

Read our summary for more insights on career interruptions and their impact on women.

1 Ipsos survey. Bank of America, 2022.