June 8, 2015
Celia Meyer: 248.885.1878

Mothers want more flexibility, single women want higher salaries

WASHINGTON, DC – Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), as part of its principal Dollars and Sense Economics and Women at Work projects, commissioned Evolving Strategies (ES) to conduct a national Causal Conjoint Optimization (C2O) experiment to determine American women’s preferences in the workplace: What really matters to women – mothers and non-mothers, and those with differing political views – when choosing a job? How important is the issue of paid leave to women? Are Democrats smart to make paid sick leave the centerpiece of their women’s economic agenda? Are we overlooking other, significant workplace considerations? And how does all this impact the policies set here in Washington?

The study uses a Casual Conjoint Optimization (C2O) a new version of a core market research tool developed by ES, which insists respondents make tradeoffs. The project required respondents to choose between two completely randomly generated workplaces, creating a constrained choice between job packages that varied in terms of 11 job attributespercent female executives, raises, family and medical leave, CEO’s annual salary, your supervisor’s gender, your annual salary, workplace flexibility options, healthcare packages, average employee’s tenure, bonuses, and paid vacation and sick leave.  The end result is causal identification of exactly what job attributes impact the probability that women will choose one job over another, and how fair they think workplace conditions are.

“When we have these policy discussions about pay equity or paid leave, we're often working under the assumption that women's preferences in the workplace are all the same,” said IWF Executive Director Sabrina Schaeffer. “We know, however, one-size-fits-all workplace solutions that Democrats continuously propose won’t benefit women or the economy. Women have different needs and wants when it comes to salary, time off, flexible work arrangements, even gender of supervisors.”


Explore how job attributes affect probability that women chooses one job over competing jobs.


• Salary is of course the dominant attribute, but the impact of other job features is often surprisingly large.

• General job flexibility is highly valued by women; offering a combination of flexible schedules, telecommuting, and reduced hours is about equivalent to offering 10 paid vacation and sick days or between $5,000 to $10,000 in extra salary.

• Paid family and medical leave is a relatively small concern.

• Signals of company character — such as CEO pay, bonuses and raises, and the percentage of female executives — have a large collective impact.

• Mothers with young children value workplace flexibility and paid sick & vacation days much more than non-mothers.

• Women without young children value salary and raises far more than do mothers.

• Liberal women prefer jobs with a female supervisor and value salary, paid vacation and sick days, and generous family medical leave policies far more than do conservatives.

• Conservative women hold to type, with the average employee’s tenure and healthcare package much more important to their job choice; a relatively secure and stable job prospect is very attractive to them.

• Perceptions of workplace "fairness" aligned closely with a woman's job preferences.


Additional IWF Study: New Messaging Could Break Female Support of So-Called "Healthy Families Act" | VIEW FULL REPORT (PDF)



Independent Women's Forum works to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free-markets and personal liberty. 

Celia Meyer
Communications Associate
248.885.1878 | [email protected]