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The COVID-19 pandemic changed what women want from their companies. This news comes from the Women in the Workplace study from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company. The results show that women care more now about opportunity, well-being, flexibility, and diversity, equity and inclusion. And they’re leaving their companies to get it.

The study found that women are reassessing their work life. Almost 3 in 10 women (29%) have thought about reducing their hours, taking a less demanding job, or leaving the workforce altogether during the past year. This compares to 22% of men. Despite some progress, women are still underrepresented in leadership. Just under three-quarters (74%) of c-suite executives are men compared to 26% who are women (up from 20% in 2017).

Women leaders are also leaving their companies at higher rates. The three main reasons for this are:

  1. They want to advance, but face stronger headwinds than men.
  2. They are overworked and under-recognized.
  3. They want a better work culture.

These factors are even more important to women under the age of 30. Women in this age group want to advance, with more than two-thirds saying they want to be senior leaders. Two-thirds of women in this age group also say they would be more interested in advancing if they saw senior leaders with a work-life balance they would want. 

Remote work is another important factor for women. The majority of women (61%) prefer to work mostly remotely, compared to half of men (50%). Women are also more likely to say they were happy with their jobs and had equal opportunities to advance when they worked where they wanted to.

Women remain underrepresented in technical roles. Just over 3 in 10 (32%) women in these roles report they are the only woman in the room. 

Challenges also remain for Black women leaders. They were also found to be more ambitious than other women at their level, but face greater barriers to advancement. One-third of Black women leaders say they have been passed over or denied opportunities because of characteristics including their gender and race.