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What firm characteristics determine women ' s employment in manufacturing? Evidence from Bangladesh

Salma Ahmed (Deakin University, Geelong, Australia)
Simon Feeny (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Alberto Posso (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 14 March 2016




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the principal determinants of women’s employment in the manufacturing sector of Bangladesh using a firm-level panel data from the World Bank’s “Enterprise Survey” for the years 2007, 2011 and 2013. The paper sheds light on the demand-side factors, mainly firm-level characteristics, which also influence this decision.


The authors estimate a fractional logit model to model a dependent variable that is limited by zero from below and one from above.


The results indicate that firm size, whether medium or large, and firms’ export-oriented activities, have an important impact on women’s employment in the manufacturing sector in Bangladesh. Moreover, the authors find that women are significantly more likely to work in unskilled-labour-intensive industries within the manufacturing sector.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited to Bangladesh; however, much of the evidence presented here has implications that are relevant to policymakers in other developing countries.

Practical implications

The study identifies factors that affect female employment, that is, where the main constraints to increase female labour force participation. The study focuses on the demand-side factors, which has been somewhat neglected in recent years. As such, it has practical policy implications.

Social implications

Focusing on female employment in Bangladesh also sheds light on the nexus between labour market opportunities and social change within a country that is characterised by extreme patriarchy, which has wide-reaching implications.


This is an original and comprehensive paper by the authors.



Ahmed, S., Feeny, S. and Posso, A. (2016), "What firm characteristics determine women ' s employment in manufacturing? Evidence from Bangladesh", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 99-122.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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