Gender and Turnover: A Re-examination of the Impact of Sex on Intent and Actual Job Changes

Jacob Weisberg, Alan Kirschenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Gender as a correlate of turnover has been inconclusive as a factor in understanding the development of a turnover decision. Yet, it is a decisive factor in the operation of key labor market processes which directly affect the entry and exit of labor to and from work organizations. Two possible conceptual and methodological explanations for this seemingly contradictory situation are proposed which distinguish “intent” from “actual turnover” and disaggregate male and female components of the “sex” variable. The lower and less consistent labor force participation rates of women in contrast to men led us to hypothesize that actual turnover behavior and intent to leave will be gender-specific, as well as influenced by differing sets of labor market and work environment factors. Three propositions testing these hypothesized relationships between gender and “intent” and “actual turnover” were examined. A representative sample of 506 textile workers located at 15 separate worksites was examined. A series of logistic models was devised which first began by clarifying the dual link between gender and both the intent to leave and actual turnover. Identical but separate logistic regression models were performed on men and women. This was followed by assessing if differing sets of biodemographic, perceived work environmental, and labor market variables explain differences for men and women in intent and/or actual turnover behavior. The results establish that women had greater rates of actual turnover than men, but no differences were found in the intent to leave. Both groups perceived their work environment similarly. The logistic analysis, however, confirmed that gender was a significant explanator of actual turnover but lot of intent. Contrasting alternative logistic models disclosed that different antecedent variables explained variations between men and women in both intent and turnover. These results help explain the inconsistent results linking gender to turnover, as well as emphasize that gender differences are crucial to understanding the development of a turnover decision. These results are then interpreted in light of the significance of gender to other forms of organizational behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)987-1006
Number of pages20
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1993


  • gender
  • intentions
  • jobs
  • labor
  • turnover


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