Understanding gender barriers in the Pakistani labour market: A deep dive in the job search process

Policy brief Firms and Trade

  • The emerging reasons behind low female labour force participation rates in developing countries are a lack of access to safe transport, social norms, and the burden of household responsibilities. However, one area which has received less attention is the job search process itself.
  • We use data from a job search platform in Lahore, Pakistan, to discuss the differences in job search across men and women and study how women face unique barriers at every major stage of entering the labour market in Pakistan.
  • Among those who want to work, men are more likely than women to search actively for jobs. The most prominent job search method for both jobseekers and firms is searching through networks. However, women face some information frictions in searching through networks.
  • Women set their salary expectations much lower than men. Also, the gender pay gap in posted salaries increases with education and firm size.
  • Working women often face late working hours and many workplaces do not have appropriate facilities for women, nor offer maternity leave to female employees.