This article examines the effect of working time on women’s willingness to go on expatriate assignments in the oil and gas exploration and production sector. The research draws upon an analysis of two case study firms’ international assignment and working time policies, semi-structured interviews with 14 Human Resource staff responsible for policy design and implementation, and a survey of the views of 71 women expatriates, supported by in-depth interviews with 26 of the survey respondents. The research identifies an ‘expat factor’: assignees state that long hours are inherent in expatriation and necessary to further their careers. However in practice, working time is not excessive and flexible working practices are utilised. Hours of work have little effect on women’s decisions to undertake long-term assignments but alternatives such as short-term and commuter assignments are unpopular as their working patterns are disruptive to family life. This article contributes to theory development by linking two discrete frameworks that explain women’s career choices when they strive to balance their career goals with their families and by identifying a career compromise threshold when expatriation is rejected in favour of family considerations. A model is proposed to link working time/patterns to women’s international assignment participation.