Which comes first, the chicken or the norm? Gender segregation in an agro-industrial program in Nigeria

Professional choice is one of the most important economic decisions an individual can make and has been shown to be a key factor in the productivity and income gap between men and women. Women tend to fall into different occupations than men, and occupations dominated by women often pay less on average. For example, in entrepreneurship, there is a higher concentration of women in sectors such as retail or catering; in agriculture, there is a lower probability that women will be included in cash crop markets. Social norms can restrict women’s choices about what types of work to pursue, and in a new article we explore the extent to which what is considered appropriate work for women explains an influx into the poultry value chain. observed in an agro-industry development program.

New paper ‘Gender Segregation at Work in Agriculture: Evidence on Gender Norms and Socio-Emotional Skills in Nigeria’ Examines Gender Differences in Labor Force Participation in Value Chains agribusiness in Nigeria. Using data from around 12,000 applicants for a Government of Nigeria (GoN) development program that seeks to create opportunities in agribusiness, we analyze the choice of agro-industrial value chains among male applicants. and women on the program. We find that when given a choice of 11 different value chains, the majority (54 percent) of applicants chose to enter the poultry value chain, which we find to be one of the least profitable among choices. Additionally, women were significantly more likely to choose poultry than men (a gender gap of 7.2 percentage points in northern states and 3.6 percentage points in southern states).

The GoN program was designed to encourage men and women to start agribusiness businesses within government priority value chains by providing technical and business training as well as an in-kind subsidy of business inputs. During the program application process, each applicant had to select a sector from one of 11 priority value chains: cassava, rice, cashews, poultry, aquaculture, cocoa, maize, tomatoes, ginger, dairy or wheat. . These value chains were proposed by the project on the basis of economic viability and national objectives of food security, export potential and promotion of livelihoods.

Poultry can be an attractive business, especially for women and youth, as it does not require a lot of land, can generate income quickly (it has short production cycles) and provides full employment instead of depending on seasonal production. However, the popular choice of the poultry value chain among applicants may not have been based on a clear assessment of market opportunities and income potential. In the paper, we ask, when given a choice of 11 value chains to choose from, what factors drove more than 50% of applicants to choose poultry? And why were women more likely to make this choice than men?

Among women, we find that being older, having more work experience and owning land is positively correlated with the likelihood of choosing a higher performing non-poultry sector. In the northern states, the perception of the norm plays an important role in explaining the sorting of women in poultry. In the north, gender norms are more restrictive and embedded in traditional gender roles and behaviors, and we find that the more women perceive that their community misjudges women for work outside the home, the less they are likely to enter and operate in the upper echelons. -return the non-poultry sectors. Standards do not seem to play a role in the decision of sector choice in the south where the norms around gender roles are more egalitarian. However, higher education is positively correlated with the choice to enter non-poultry sectors for women in the south. Socio-emotional skills such as personal initiative, perseverance and creativity are positively correlated with moving to non-poultry sectors for women with no previous experience, reflecting that these skills are likely necessary for women’s decision to enter. in those higher yielding sectors. The choice of men from non-poultry sectors is simply motivated by men with more years of professional experience in the chosen value chain.

Figure: Individual beliefs against perceived community norms on women’s right to work outside the home among women and men in northern and southern Nigeria

Note: Green bars suggest that only a small proportion of the sample personally believe that women should NOT work outside the home (grouped by local government area (LGA)). White bars represent the community standard, given by the proportion of the community expected to judge a woman wrong because she works outside the home, with more judgment perceived in the northern states than in the northern states. South.

It is important to note that in non-traditional sectors where women are not strongly represented, they may be marginalized or face social discrimination. In the analysis, we find that women in northern states with more experience in higher-yielding non-poultry sectors exhibit lower self-efficacy, which we believe may reflect challenges and negative reactions. they face when they deviate from norms to cross and operate in non-traditional sectors.

The extent to which restrictive gender norms influence gender-based occupational segregation could affect women’s potential to profit from agribusiness and further exacerbate the gender income gap.

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