Women and the Economy

Workforce Participation and Occupations

Women account for 44 percent of the full-time civilian workforce living in Montgomery County. Using 5 years of data collected by the US Census (2012-2016), the chart below shows the number of women vs. men working in select occupational categories. Arrows pointing right indicate more female workers, while arrows pointing left indicate more male workers. The most common occupational category for women is management, followed by office and admin support, while  the category of computer, engineering, and science ranks first for men, followed by management.

Women dominate healthcare support occupations (80 percent); education, training, and library occupations (66 percent); and health technologists and technicians occupations (65 percent). However, women are highly underrepresented in construction (2 percent); protective service occupations like police officers (20 percent); production, transportation, and moving occupations (20 percent); and computer, engineering, and science occupations (32 percent). Men and women have roughly equal representation in business and financial operations (52 percent) and in cleaning and grounds maintenance (53 percent).
Female Share of Workforce in Popular Occupations

The chart below, based on the Public Use Micro-dataset of the Census American Community Survey (2011-2015), provides a more granular look at specific occupations by showing the same information for the most commonly held jobs in Montgomery County. Childcare workers, maids, administrative assistants, and registered nurses are the most female-dominated occupations in the county. Certain construction jobs (such as painters and carpenters) and truck drivers are the most male-dominated. Of note, software developers (29 percent) and computer systems analysts (34 percent) also rank near the bottom with a low share of women in these occupations.

Labor Force Participation by Age

Estimates from the 2016 Census American Community Survey show women and men have nearly even labor force participation up to the age of 25, after which a roughly 12 percentage point gap persists between the ages of 30 until the age of 60. Note, however, that female labor force participation remains over 80 percent during these years. The gap in labor force participation widens slightly after 60 (peaking at a 16 percentage points gap during age 70-74).

Labor Force Participation Over Time

The figure below shows the rapid growth in labor force participation among women, from 1910 to 1990. The participation rate has continued to grow in the last decade. This data is based on historic iPUMS data (Integrated Public Use Micro-data Sets) drawn from the Census American Community Survey (for later years) and Decennial Census (for earlier years). The most recent data from the Census American Community Survey 2016 shows that, among residents aged 20-64, 80 percent of women were in the labor force, compared to 90 percent of men in Montgomery County. This rate of female labor force participation is 8 percent higher than the national rate, 2 percent higher than the state rate, and 1 percent higher than the Washington, DC metro rate. Montgomery County also has a higher rate of labor participation for working mothers -- i.e. with children under 18 -- standing at 80 percent vs. 73 percent nationally. Additionally, 74 percent of women with children under 6 participate in the labor force, compared to a national average of 71 percent.

Labor Force Participation over Time

Pay Gap

The Census American Community Survey (2012-2016) reports that women in Montgomery County earn 82 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts (looking only at civilian residents who are employed full-time and year-round). This figures compares favorably to the 72 cents on the dollar paid to women nationally and the 77 cents paid to women in the state of Maryland.

Women in Montgomery County make more than men only in the occupational categories: community and social services and protective service (which has very few women workers). The largest pay gaps are present in cleaning and grounds maintenance (72 cents) and in health diagnosis and treatment (54 cents) which covers a diverse range of occupations with different gender distributions. Of note, research shows that women who earn more than their male partners tend to underreport their personal income, even on US Census forms.
The chart below shows the actual dollar wages for men and women (based on the median). Women make most in legal occupations, followed by management. Management, however, has a much smaller gender pay differential.

Women-owned Businesses

According to the 2012 Economic Census (the latest available) women owned 4,499 of all county firms with employees, accounting for 21 percent of the total (roughly a third of the number of male-owned firms). This number is up from 4,121 in 2007. Women-owned firms in the county accounted for 11 percent of paid employees, 8 percent of payroll, and 5 percent of total sales. In total, women-owned firms employed 45,622 employees (up from 41,842 in 2007) who produced $5.8 billion in sales (up from $4.4 billion in 2007) on a combined payroll of $2.0 billion (up from $1.6 billion in 2007). Women also operated 43 percent of the firms without employees in 2012 (41,906 in 2012, up from 33,279 in 2007), which includes self-employed residents and those working in the "gig" economy. 
Between 2007 and 2012, women-owned firms increased their share of sales, payroll, and businesses relative to male-owned firms, as shown in the chart below.

The chart below shows the share of employees held by women-owned businesses in select industries, with administrative and support services leading the way.

The chart below shows the total counts of employees for women-owned businesses by industry.

County Government Workforce

In 2017, the Montgomery County Government (not including Montgomery County Public Schools) employed more than 3,750 women in regular/permanent positions, accounting for 40.5 percent of all employees (analysis based on 2017 salary dataset released on dataMontgomery). The share of women employees differs tremendously across departments, from 84 percent in the Department of Health and Human Services to 8 percent in Fire and Rescue Services. The chart below shows the 2017 distribution for all county departments and offices with 20 or more staff. Of note, two-thirds of staff in the Office of the County Executive were women in the final year of the Leggett administration, including all three Assistant Chief Administrative Officers and two of three Special Assistants.