Entrepreneurship and Gender Equity
I’ve written a couple of times (here and here) about gender equity issues in employment and unemployment. I have an interest in almost all labor market issues but on this one I have three terrific and personal reasons for my interest. One of them is a scientist in training and in a few years will be confronting the labor market issues I examine here.
My initial hypothesis was that larger businesses in NH would likely have more extensive policies and recruiting efforts that would result in a higher percentage of women being employed in larger businesses in professional, scientific and technical industries in the state. These industries include things like legal, architectural, engineering, laboratory, computer programming, accounting and scientific firms as well as veterinary services but not human medical services). As the chart below shows, that is not the case, as the smallest firms have a higher percentage of their employees who are women. These industries also have the highest percentages of employees (male or female) with at least a BA degree. Again, as the chart shows, smaller firms had the highest percentage of women among the employees with the highest levels of educational attainment.
My new hypothesis is this – I don’t think (or at least I hope) that larger firms have any preference for hiring men over women. Rather, it is that a higher percentage of the smaller firms in these industries are likely to be women owned and newer businesses started, owned, or managed by women. I think the fact that the percentage of all women employees at larger firms, who have at least a BA degree or higher is greater than it is at smaller firms suggests that larger firms don’t just hire females predominately for lower-skilled occupations. Women still represent a smaller percentage of graduates from many professional, scientific and technical programs (although that is changing) and thus present a smaller percentage of the potential workforce for many industries. For smaller prof./scientific and tech. firms that are started, owned or operated by women, female employment with the highest levels of educational attainment could, however, be expected to be higher than at larger firms.
Anyway, that’s my story and until I get more evidence, I’m sticking to it. More than just my interest as a parent, I think the issue has larger implications for policies to support gender equity and to increase the supply of highly skilled workers. It may be that promoting entrepreneurship among women is among the best approaches to both.