Does Globalization Benefit Women in Developing Countries?
Percent Female Workers in Export and Non-export Manufacturing Firms in Mexico, 2001
Posted: September 26, 2007
In a recent article Andrés Villarreal and Wei-hsin Yu examine the effect of foreign investment and export production on gender inequality in Mexico, a country that epitomizes the global shift to an open-market economic strategy. Using data from nationally representative surveys of manufacturing firms between 1992 and 2001, they find that foreign and export-oriented firms employ significantly more women at every occupational level than do nationally-owned firms producing goods for sale in the domestic market. The greater employment of women in foreign and export firms cannot be explained by these firms' higher demand for workers of lower skill levels, their size, capital intensity, production technology, wage level, use of temporary workers, or industry. Using managers' responses to survey questions regarding gender preferences in hiring, Villarreal and Yu find that managers in foreign-owned export firms have a preference for hiring women that cannot be explained by firm-level factors. This preference may account for the observed differences in female employment. Finally, using firms' payroll information to analyze the gender wage gap in manufacturing firms, they find that foreign-owned export firms discriminate against women less in terms of wages.