Brazilian women generally have better educational backgrounds than men, but are still disadvantaged when it comes to income and job placement, according to a survey called Gender Statistics – Analysis of the 2010 Population Census, published Friday (Oct. 31) by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).
In addition to lower illiteracy rates among women (9.1% versus men's 9.8%), the proportion of women pursuing higher education is also larger (15.1% of the 18-24 age group), compared to 11.3% of men in the same age group. Women also do better in terms of secondary education, with 52.2% of them going to high school at the appropriate age (15-17), compared to 42.4% of men.
In spite of all these qualifications, women were found to earn an average 68% of what men earned in 2010. Barbara Cobo, IBGE Coordinator for Population and Social Demographics, cites traditionally female roles among the factors underlying the gender gap in employment and income: “For reasons that go beyond educational and job policies, women's educational edge over men does not necessarily result in better employment opportunities for them. One of the chief reasons for that is motherhood – women still have two careers to manage, and are also often more generally assigned with caretaking and housekeeping responsibilities,” she noted.
Cobo pointed out that women and men earn roughly similar wages in the early stages of their careers, but the gap tends to widen over time: “While it is true that a woman's performance has much to do with her educational background, it also depends on public policies that allow her to have somewhere to leave her kids so she can go to work. Labor regulations are also important factors, since maternity and paternity leaves are too disparate in length. And in senior executive levels, there is a very clear difference between male and female presence,” she said.
In absolute numbers, the survey showed men earn an average $658 compared to an average $445.29 paid to women. Another finding was that women make up a majority of graduates in lower-paying careers including Education (83%) and Arts and Humanities (74.2%). In Engineering, Manufacturing, and Construction, which offer better average pays, women account for only 21.9% of graduates. The second best-paid area, Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, has the second lowest female presence (27.4%).
Translated by Mayra Borges