71%. That’s the percentage of female millennials who want to work abroad during their career. 20%. That’s the percentage of the current international assignee population that are women. If women represent half of the workforce, and their demand for international assignments has never been higher, why are they so underrepresented?

A study from PwC, Moving Women with Purpose, points to a few possible explanations and explores the intersection between talent management, gender diversity and global mobility.

In the study, they look at a lot of reasons why women are underrepresented in international mobility, but there is one overwhelming theme. Employers are making assumptions on behalf of their female employees - they want to start a family soon, they won’t enjoy a challenging location, they won’t want to ask their partner to leave a promising position. But the problem with assumptions, is that sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. Lucky for us, there’s a pretty simple solution – ask them. Ask them if they’re interested in an international opportunity. Ask them if they have concerns about the location, their personal life or performing the work. You might be surprised with what you learn. And right along with that, ask the men too. Don’t assume that they are (or aren’t) eager to take an international assignment or that they don’t have complications at home.

We all know that a lot of companies rely on international assignments to help build the talent pipeline. Their future leaders are using these assignments to learn about the company, a new market, or develop critical skills. Those same organizations are working tirelessly to meet internal diversity objectives and create more inclusive workforce. It’s time to put 2 and 2 together.

A final thought from PwC…

 “Greater gender diversity in leadership will not happen by accident – and to make progress towards it, employers must implement inclusive talent strategies that support the advancement, engagement and development of this significant and growing talent population.”