Article written by DPDF 2009 Revitalizing Development Studies fellow Sheba Tejani and William Milberg, featured in Feminist Economics.
Globalization has for decades been associated with a rise in the female share of employment or feminization. This study finds that since the mid 1980s, export growth in developing countries is associated with feminization in some countries and a defeminization in others. Focusing on Southeast Asia and Latin America, it uses a fixed-effects econometric model to test whether the technological conditions of production (labor or capital intensity) rather than export growth account for shifts in the female share of employment in manufacturing. It finds that the capital intensity of production, evidenced by shifts in labor productivity, is negatively and significantly related to shifts in the female share of employment in manufacturing, while exports are statistically insignificant. The study concludes that an anti-female bias exists in labor demand changes that result from output or employment shifts in developing countries when manufacturing becomes more capital intensive, a process likely related to industrial upgrading.