In skimming today’s Washington Post, I saw a short blurb that says that women’s careers are responsible for one-third of corporate relocations, up from 15 percent in 1993. The study that it’s based on appears to be only available for a hefty fee, so I don’t know how reliable the data are, but if it’s real, that’s a fascinating trend.
In reading Pamela Stone’s book on Opting Out?, I was struck by how often a choice to be the "trailing spouse" in a relocation was the first (unintentional) step down a path that led to women leaving the workforce. They assumed that their skills were strong enough that they’d have no trouble finding another job, and that was generally true, but often it wasn’t quite as good a job, or they just didn’t have the leverage in the new job to insist on the flexibility they wanted. Or the relocation put stress on their family, and they wanted to take time to help the kids adjust…
The big question I’d want to know is what the breakdown of relocations by gender is among married couples — my guess is the 32 percent figure includes relocating singles. If there’s really a big growth in the number of men willing to be a trailing spouse, that’s a bigger indicator of gender equality than the frequently cited stat that 1/3 of wives earn more than their husbands.