There is a lot to chew on in the HBR article below. Starting with how often women overqualified for a position will get hired anyway versus overqualified men.
Our findings illuminate how standout women employees can be taken for granted by firms because of gendered beliefs about who is and who isn’t a flight risk. Moreover, such gendered dynamics likely contribute to the glass ceiling and gender gaps in earnings. If firms assume women will place loyalty to the firm over advancing in their careers through outside opportunities, they won’t engage in preemptive retention efforts like bonuses, raises, promotions, or increased responsibility like they will for men.
The takeaway here is that if we assume all women are more loyal to the organization and their coworkers, we treat them differently than men in the same situation. That happens.
It’s also more than that. These gender stereotypes also mean that we make decisions about individuals and their motivations based on something other than their situations. This is dangerous. This leads us to see people through lenses and assumptions that may not be true. We may be offering more money or prestige to someone as part of a retention strategy who needs better work-life balance or is interested in developing different skills. We may assume that all of our employees would respond similarly to incentives when their situations might require something else. We may find ourselves offering promotions to people who don’t want to be a manager or aren’t interested in relocating or traveling for work as much because they need more time at home with their small kids or time off to assist with their elderly parents.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to retention and career advancement. Trying to pretend that all women want one thing, all men another, or all of our employees, despite their race, gender, identity, etc., want the same thing is a shallow way to work with individual human beings.
Stop undervaluing exceptional women, and start asking what all of your exceptional people want as individuals.