Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | July 31, 2012

In Latin America, men still earn more than women for same work

Hugo Ñopo is a lead research economist in education at the Inter-American Development Bank. In his recently published book, New Century, Old Disparities: Ethnic Earnings Gaps in Latin America and the Caribbean, he documented that—based on representative data from 18 countries in Latin America circa 2007—males earn from 29 to 31 percent more than females with the same age, level of education, number of children, presence of other income earner at home, type of employment, and average hours worked per week.

Household surveys from eight Latin American countries show that, out of 10 top-paying occupations, including CEO, architect, lawyer, doctor, physicist, and production manager, women hold a smaller share of these lucrative posts compared to men.

Many of these high-paying positions rely heavily on quantitative skills—an area in which males of the region still have more training, despite the fact that females across Latin America and the Caribbean are outpacing males in educational attainment. Though females are staying in school longer, their test scores in math still fall short of males’.

UNESCO data indicate that by 2008, females across six countries in South America—Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay—constituted almost 60 percent of all graduates from college programs. Yet they represented only 30 percent of those studying engineering, manufacturing or construction. Women, however, made up a majority of graduates in the fields of education (73 percent), health care and sociology (71 percent).

Similarly, with colleagues at Bogotá’s Universidad de Los Andes, Hugo Ñopo analyzed photos of people published in nationally circulated Colombian newspapers and magazines during the second quarter of 2011. At first glance, the gender split seemed unbiased: one-third of the images contained only men, another third only women, and another third both.

However, women were usually depicted in situations related to health, friendship, love, and beauty while men were pictured in environments denoting entrepreneurship, security and justice. The business publication used in the sample depicted less than one-fifth of women-only images, with only half of those in an environment denoting entrepreneurship, security or justice.

Read more about Hugo Ñopo’s study here.

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