WORKING ABROAD / DEC. 03, 2014
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Couples Tend to Relocate for a Man’s Job

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When it comes to relocating for a job, there is quite a difference between men and women in a relationship.

Maybe you’ve experienced this for yourself, where you had to move because your spouse or significant other was awarded a new job in another state. For some of you, maybe you were the one who had to break the news to your family that you were starting a job elsewhere and it was time to pick up and go. 

Whatever the case may be, it is typical for a man to have to relocate rather than a woman.

According to a study done by assistant professor Alan Benson from the University of Minnesota, the abstract suggests that: 

‘While most two-earner families feature husbands in geographically clustered occupations involving frequent relocation for work, families are no-less-likely to relocate for work when it belongs to the wife.’

Some have concluded that maybe it’s because of the traditional gender roles established in the home.

In most cases, men tend to lead the household—taking on the “breadwinner” role. In contrast, women are normally stay-at-home mothers or working in jobs that do not require as much rewarding career advancements.

However, the study discovered that men usually choose jobs or industry fields that facilitates professional development, even if that means relocating is the key to moving up the ladder. 

The Washington Post puts it in simpler terms:

‘Women enter professions that make it easy to work anywhere, and move for any reason, including for a spouse. Men choose careers in fields that are geographically constrained. In other words, men have to move in order to move up.’

This seems to be true according to data retrieved by Benson.

In a census based on gender and jobs recorded from 1988 to 2000, it reveals just how dissimilar career paths are for men and women. Women usually go for the job that can be done anywhere, whereas their partner chooses a job that has to be worked from a specific location.

Examples of these jobs are divided into two categories—clustered or dispersed. Listed below are some of the clustered jobs that men typically pursue:

  • Men choose geographically clustered jobs as: Aerospace Engineers, Legislators, Airplane Pilots, Astronomers, and Mathematicians.
  • Women choose geographically dispersed jobs as: Accountants, Pharmacists, Financial Managers, Primary School Teachers, and Marketing Managers.

While you may think this has to do with gender inequity in the workforce, it doesn’t.

Benson ensures that men are more likely to choose jobs that are only located in a certain region or state, and when they don’t, then, they experience career immobility.

“Men who enter female-dominated jobs don’t tend to move as much for work,” said Benson. “If you look at women who enter male-dominated jobs, they tend to move a lot.”

As inspiring as this may seem, there’s a downside to women working in geographically cluttered careers.

Unfortunately, when it’s the woman who has to move around for her job, it usually ends up in divorce or separation. Therefore, women are either a) subjected to submit to the change, or b) choosing their career over their spouse.

Occupational segregation within the relationship is usually self-fulfilling and not manipulated by outside factors. So, ultimately it’s up to you and your spouse to decide on what works best for both of you. 

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