5 Reasons why highly qualified women don’t return to the workforce

Women opting out of the workforce is nothing new. What has changed is that we have a generation of women who aimed high. They got qualified in record numbers, were told they could achieve anything, they secured good jobs, rose to mid management and executive levels – then they opted out when they had children. Most believed they would resume their career where they had left off. Their CV told a great story. Didn’t it?

However the reality is there are thousands of highly qualified women wanting to work, who are left frustrated, not employed or underutilised in the workforce. The 5 main reasons this occurs is due to:

1.    A lack of flexible management and senior decision making roles.

2.    Current recruitment methods are biased towards linear career paths and/or uninterrupted careers. Together with an unfounded belief that you are somehow "less than" because you have a break.

3.    Women downgrade their skills to get a foot in the door (to the extent of doing roles they did as a graduate).

4.    Many give corporate the flick altogether to start their own businesses (even if that is not the most profitable or preferred route).

5.    Very few companies target and provide re-entry paths to assist with transitioning back into work. 

What many women thought would be a bridge between leaving and returning to equitable roles, feels more like falling off a cliff and having to climb the mountain again. The top of the mountain doesn’t need to represent CxO level, it’s about roles that are satisfying and that utilise your knowledge and skills. I am focused on developing solutions to build the bridges to get these educated, experienced leaders back into decision making roles. If Australia is serious about adding 200,000 women to the labor workforce by 2025, we need to make changes so women with interrupted career paths are a priority! 

Michelle Ayyuce