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%). Note that research shows that women who earn more than their male partners tend to under-report their personal income, even on Census forms.

Median Annual Earnings for Women Relative to Men 

Women-owned Businesses

The results of the US Economic Census of 2017 will not be released until 2019. For this section, the analysis will instead uses the 2012 Economic Census.

In 2012, women owned 4,499 of all County firms with employees, accounting for 21% of the total (roughly a third of the number of male-owned firms). This is up from 4,121 in 2007. Women-owned firms in the County accounted for 11% of paid employees, 8% of total payroll, and 5% 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% 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.
Women-owned firms increased their share of sales, payroll, and businesses relative to male-owned firms, between 2012 and 2007.

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

The list below shows the total number of employees working for women-owned businesses for select industries.

County Government Workforce

The Montgomery County Government (not including Montgomery County Public Schools) employed more than 3,750 women in regular/permanent positions in 2017, accounting for 40.5% of all employees (analysis based on 2017 salary dataset released on dataMontgomery). The share of women employees differs tremendously across departments, from 84% in the Department of Health and Human Services to 8% 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 are women, including all three Assistant Chief Administrative Officers and two of three Special Assistants.