Does gender structure affect firm productivity? Evidence from China

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This study examines the impact of gender workforce composition on firm productivity. Using a large sample of Chinese manufacturing firms and conditional on human capital-related controls, we find that firms with a greater share of female workers demonstrate lower productivity. However, our results suggest that increasing the fraction of highly educated female workers significantly improves firm performance. This effect is evident for all private firms regardless of their trade orientation and foreign firms undertaking purely domestic sales. However, the effect does not exist in the case of state-owned and export-oriented foreign enterprises. Compared with medium-sized and large firms, small firms benefit more from gender diversity at high education level. Finally, the share of highly talented female workers indicates better firm performance in more feminized industries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-36
Number of pages18
JournalChina Economic Review
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Female
  • Gender
  • Human capital
  • Productivity


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