Women, business and the law: measuring legal gender parity for entrepreneurs and workers
Ahmad, Syed Zamberi
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Purpose – Given the importance of legal parity between women and men in today's world and lack of research in this domain, the purpose of this paper is to identify gender‐based distinctions in formal laws and institutions that may directly or indirectly affect women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Design/methodology/approach – Covering 128 economies, it establishes six indicators of gender differences in formal laws and institutions: accessing institutions; using property; getting a job; dealing with taxes; building credit; and going to court. The first three indicators capture laws that have direct gender dimensions and are based on a reading of such laws from the perspective of individual women. The fourth indicator examines the direct and indirect gender implications of tax policy from the perspective of four standardised families with varying tax liabilities. The last two indicators examine the ease of access to credit bureaus and courts to examine the indirect effects that microfinance institutions and dispute resolution have on women, who are more likely to rely on non‐traditional financial services. The questions used to construct each indicator were chosen based on data availability, economic relevance and variation of regulation across economies. Findings – The findings of the study pointed out that every region contains economies with unequal rules for men and women, with the extent of inequality varying by region. Research limitations/implications – This research does not test or analyse outcome variables of gender inequality; it simply identifies whether the law is equal for women and men, which can be a potential source of inequitable gender outcomes. Practical implications – This research offers valuable practical insights for employees and entrepreneurs to improve understanding of how legal and regulatory environments shape opportunities for women and contribute to more informed policy discussions. Originality/value – The paper provides interesting insights into research on linkages between legal differentiation and outcomes for women, and helps inform policy dialogue on things governments can do to expand women's opportunities. It is the first attempt to measure the gender gap in policy variables using quantitative and objective data.