Do women constitute an added value when managing companies? Is there any reason to believe that firms managed by women perform differently than firms managed by men? What factors drive gender gaps in firm performance, firm size and access to finance? What steps are needed to increase women participation in management positions?
These questions have been addressed by Dr.Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso*, professor of economics and researcher in the same field, as part of a policy brief published in the FEMISE Med Brief series. The queries of Dr Martínez-Zarzoso were driven by the poor participation of women in economic activities in the MENA region compared to regions with more liberal cultural backgrounds.
Using the latest multi-country version of the World Bank Enterprise dataset released in October 2016 covering countries in 6 developing regions around the world, Dr. Martínez-Zarzoso analyzed the relationship between gender and firm performance in the MENA region.
The analysis revealed that gender gap in entrepreneurship is to be measured based on the presence of women in top management positions rather than on the commonly used parameter which is their presence in ownership positions. The distinction between female management and female ownership does matter as well as the confluence between both parameters.
When all studied regions were considered, female managed firms with no female owners were found to show a higher labor productivity. Results differ however among regions and among countries in each region. By looking at the MENA region, findings in Tunisia are positive as female participation in entrepreneurship led to increased labor productivity. These results are also partially confirmed for Morocco. More research is needed in specific countries to relate study results to the domestic economic and social norms.
As a way forward, and in order to decrease gender bias and discrimination in entrepreneurship in MENA countries, Dr. Martínez-Zarzoso recommends the important need to allocate more resources to educate the future generations on the importance of gender equality. On the other hand, the results of the study can further raise awareness and contribute to having more funds be allocated to support women led businesses across countries and businesses. The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative of the World Bank is one such initiative that can provide valuable support.
Dr. Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso is currently Apl Professor of Economics and a research fellow at the Center for Statistics, the Ibero-American Institute for Economics Research, and the Center for European Governance and Economic Development Research at the University of Göttingen in Germany. She is also Professor of Economics and research fellow in the Institute of International Economics at the University Jaume I in Spain.
The MED BRIEF (June 2018) is available for download here
All FEMISE Policy Briefs are available in their website
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