The paper uses individual data for 9,957 female employees (drawn from a total sample of 29,332 individuals) in formal enterprises from 16 Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries to analyze the likelihood of women in the service sector. A well-structured questionnaire was used in all the countries to collect the data required for the analysis. The data reveal that there is a significant higher presence of women (81.56 percent) working in services as compared to the manufacturing and agricultural sectors; indicating that the service sector is more favorable for women employment compared with men. This indicates that female employment not only in the service sector is a driver of growth, and thus high female employment rates indicate a country's potential to grow more rapidly. More so, in many developing countries women's employment is sometimes considered as a coping mechanism in response to economic shocks that hit the household. With regards to methodology, both demographic and household variables are used in the probit model. The findings indicate that there is a significant and positive participation of the female labor force in most of the countries. Age, household size, and tertiary education levels emerged as the most important and positive determinants in the model. Contrary to a priori expectation, the results show that marital status reduces the likelihood of a woman to be employed in the service sector. These findings could serve as useful inputs for the design of optimal sectoral employment policy measures aimed at promoting gender equality in SSA countries
Tingum Ngeh Ernest is a visiting research fellow at CEU's School of Public Policy. From Cameroon, he holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Dar es Salaam.