We examine how the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) impacts the gender composition at U.S. firms experiencing a negative demand shock. Combining changes in Chinese imports across industries between 2000 and 2003 and a sharp regression discontinuity to identify FMLA status, we find that an increase in import competition decreases the share of female employment, earnings, and promotions at FMLA relative to non-FMLA firms. This effect is driven by women in prime childbearing ages and without college degrees; and is pronounced at firms with all male managers. These results suggest that job-protected leave mandates may exacerbate gender inequalities in response to adverse shocks.

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