That Brazilian women workers earn less money than their male counterparts is hardly breaking news. It is an unfortunate reality throughout the world—even in Iceland, the Nordic country which leads the World Economic Forum’s gender equality ranking for the past decade. What is somewhat surprising in Brazil is that, unlike in many countries, the gender pay gap becomes even more pronounced in high-level positions. A female manager often earns as little as one-third of the salary of her male counterpart.

A recent study by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) shows that a female manager in the healthcare sector earns, on average, BRL 4,764 per month. For men, this jumps up to BRL 14,891. In the mining field, a female director’s pay averages at BRL 5,439, while a male director earns roughly BRL 17,000. The study is based on Brazil’s national household sample survey, and focuses on workers between 25 and 49 years old.

Last year, the average hourly wage paid to women at all levels was BRL 13, against BRL 14.20 for men. Meaning that women’s wages were, on average, 91 percent that of men’s. But when we count total revenue, the ratio is more unequal still, with women earning 79 percent of men’s salaries. Part of that pay gap is related to the number of hours worked—37.9 per week for women against 42.7 per week for men.

“But that calculation doesn’t consider the hours worked in domestic services and care [for children or senior citizens]. All things considered, women end up working more hours than men overall,” says Adriana Beringuy, IBGE’s Job and Revenue Coordinator.


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Maternity punishes Brazilian women workers

“As it is, the labor market rewards ‘availability,’ which favors men. Our social structure still relegates the responsibility for care and domestic work almost exclusively to women,” said political scientist Flávia Biroli, of the University of Brasília, in a recent interview. Last year, she published a book on the implications of the gender gap on Brazil’s democracy.

In Brazil, maternity leave varies between 120 and 180 days, depending on the company’s policy. For men, though, it never exceeds 20 days. The law forbids companies from firing women in the five months after the baby is born without just cause.

A 2017 study by Fundação Getulio Vargas, Brazil’s most prestigious think tank, analyzed the professional trajectory of 247,455 women who took maternity leave between 2008 and 2012—following up on them until 2016.

However, about half of the surveyed female workers left their job soon after their baby’s first birthday. The higher the woman’s education level, the more likely it is for her to keep her job. But even among the best-educated professionals, 35 percent don’t stick to their positions for much longer than the birth of their child.

“An important objective of paid maternity leave is to allow mothers to balance their work and family responsibilities, as in most cases women are guaranteed to return to their same (or similar) job positions after the end of maternity leave. [But,] although maternity leave in Brazil has ensured job stability during a certain period of time, our findings suggest that it is not sufficient to retain women in the workforce in the long term,” says the study.

According to Cecilia Machado, one of the authors, public daycare centers could offer women workers an important tool to lower discrimination.

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MoneyMar 08, 2019

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BY The Brazilian Report

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