Occupational sector selection is an important determinant of returns for female entrepreneurs. If sectors that are traditionally male owned could provide an opportunity to earn higher returns, then what factors could encourage women to cross over into these sectors or prevent them from doing so? To examine this question, this paper uses data from Ethiopia to compare the firm performance and characteristics of women in male-dominated sectors (crossovers) with women who are in female-concentrated sectors (noncrossovers). The findings show that female-owned enterprises in male-dominated sectors perform better on average than those in female-concentrated sectors, with firms achieving higher profits and having more employees. The descriptive results show that crossovers do not necessarily have more education or greater skills than noncrossovers. Rather, women’s relationships and networks, especially those provided through male relatives, and being opportunity-driven entrepreneurs appear to influence the likelihood of entering a more-profitable, male-dominated sector. The study explores the implications and challenges of encouraging female entrepreneurs to enter male-dominated sectors, in an effort to provide new insight into how the earning gap between male and female entrepreneurs can be closed.
This work is part of the Closing the Gender Gap in Africa: evaluating new policies and programmes for women’s economic empowerment programme
Alibhai, Salman; Buehren, Niklas; Papineni, Sreelakshmi; Pierotti, Rachael Susan.2017. Crossovers : female entrepreneurs who enter male sectors – evidence from Ethiopia (English). Policy Research working paper;no. WPS 8065 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.
Crossovers: female entrepreneurs who enter male sectors – evidence from Ethiopia