Women and the Economy

Workforce Participation and Occupations

Women account for 44% of the full-time civilian workforce residing in Montgomery County. Using 5 years of data collected by the US Census (2011-2015), the chart below shows the share of the workforce accounted for by women in 8 main occupational categories and a number of additional sub-categories. This data looks only at residents with full-time, year-round employment.

As the chart shows, women dominate Healthcare support occupations (80%); Education, training, and library occupations (66%); and Health technologists and technicians occupations (65%). On the flip side, women are highly under-represented in Construction (2%); Protective service occupations, like police officers (20%); Production, transportation, and material moving occupations (20%); and Computer, engineering, and science occupations (32%). The most balanced occupations include Business and financial operations (52%); Building and grounds cleaning (53%); and Life, physical, and social sciences (45%).
Female Share of Workforce in Select Occupational Categories
Female Share of Workforce in Popular Occupations

The chart below provides a more granular look at specific occupations by showing the same information for 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 and truck drivers are the most male dominated. Of note, software developers (29%) and computer systems analysts (34%) also rank near the bottom.

Labor Force Participation by Age

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% during these years. The gap in labor force participation widens a bit further 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. 

Labor Force Participation over Time

Pay Gap

Using the same data, the Census reports that women in Montgomery County earn 82 cents on the dollar compared to their male counter-parts (looking only at civilian residents who are employed full-time and year-round). As a category, Computer, engineering, and science occupations have the strongest pay parity at 87%. Women make more than men only in the sub-occupation group of community and social services (112%) -- (this may also be true in Construction, not included in the graph, where women only account for 2% of the workforce, resulting in limited data availability). Healthcare support occupations has 1:1 parity in pay. The biggest pay gaps are present in Building and grounds cleaning (67%) and in Healthcare diagnosing and treating practitioners (57%).

Median Annual Earnings for Women Relative to Men 

Educational Attainment

Women today are more likely to have attained four years of college or more -- a trend that has been true since 2006 and which has continued to grow. 42.6% of women have at least four years of college, compared to 38.5% of men. Similarly, 19.3% of women have a graduate degree, compared to 17.2% of men.

% of Women and Men with Four Years of College or More
In terms of degrees, men and women specialize in different fields, but this is starting to converge. Only 38% of women degree holders specialized in a science or engineer field, compared to 57% of their male counter parts. Among younger professionals (25-39), however, the percent of women degree holders specializing in such fields grows by 5 percentage points.
Degree Holders by Field

Women in the Workforce: Montgomery County Compared to Other Jurisdictions

In preparation for the County's Amazon HQ2 bid, CountyStat conducted a benchmarking exercise to examine how the County's female workforce compares to other jurisdictions. The County's female workforce stands out on a number of important metrics, including:
  • Montgomery County has the 4th most female PhD's among all Counties in the United States (despite placing only 40th in total population). Position #1-3 go to New York County (Manhattan), Middlesex County (Cambridge MA), and Los Angeles County -- each of which is far more populous, with at least 50% more population (and ten times as many residents in the case of LA County).  Regionally, Montgomery County has more female PhDs than Fairfax County and the District of Columbia combined (and twice as many as either individually), with 16,831 female PhD holders.
  • Montgomery County has the highest percentage of women with a PhD, among mid and large sized counties (i.e. those with at least 150,000 residents): specifically, 4.5% of all women in Montgomery County, 25 years or older, have a PhD.
  • Earnings for women with a graduate or professional degree in Montgomery County are fourth highest in the nation, among mid and large sized counties (i.e. those with at least 150,000 residents). Position #1-3 go to Santa Clara and San Mateo counties in California (i.e. Silicon Valley) and Alexandria VA. By contrast, the earnings of males with a graduate or professional degree in Montgomery County rank only #14 on this same metric.
  • 42% of college-educated women in Montgomery County between the age of 25 and 39 have a science or engineering degree. This is high by national standards and places the County at #18 among mid and large sized counties. For comparison, 57% of college-educated men in the County have a science or engineering degree. Montgomery County has more female workers in computer, engineering, and science occupations than Fairfax County, despite having 100,000 fewer residents.