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Wednesday, October 17, 2012


LIMA, Peru, Wednesday October 17, 2012 – The wage gap between men and women in the Caribbean and Latin America remains significant despite recent advances, according to a new Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) study.

Recently released in Peru at a high-level meeting of experts, including United Nations (UN) Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the study was part of an exercise that explored ways to achieve gender equality in the labour markets.

Entitled “New Century, Old Disputes”, the study compared surveys of representative households in 18 Caribbean and Latin American countries and also examined wage differences across ethnic minorities of the region.

It pointed out that in spite of some gains, with the average gender wage gap decreasing from 25 to 17 percent between 1992 and 2007, the disparity remained, leaving much to be addressed.

The household surveys showed that women hold only 33 percent of the better-paid professional jobs in the region, including those related to architecture, law or engineering.

The wage gap between men and women in these professions is notably higher: 58 percent on average, according to the study.

The study indicated that these jobs require quantitative skills, and despite the fact that women lead men by half a year of education on average, they tend to focus on careers like psychology, teaching or nursing, where those skills are not developed.

“In terms of women’s participation in the work force, there has been progress in recent decades, but the wage gap between men and women still prevails,” said Hugo Ñopo, author of the study and an IDB specialist in education.

“The process of closing this gap has been very slow because misguided stereotypes and perceptions of the roles of men and women have distorted interactions, not only in the workplace but also at home.”

The study pointed out that women have a tendency to work part-time, on a self-employed basis and in informal activities, and indicated that while one in every 10 men works part-time, one in every four women works on this basis.

“This labour flexibility, which allows women to participate in labour markets while still being able to take care of multiple responsibilities at home, comes at a cost reflected in lower wages,” the study noted.

It added that women usually entered the labour market at a later stage and participated in it irregularly, in order to raise children, for example.

“This might deter their experience and professional development, thus increasing the wage gap with age,” the study found.

Recommendations made in the study to close the gender wage gap included distributing household chores equally, encouraging women to study science and mathematics, and adopting measures that afforded them a better chance to participate in labour markets.

SOURCE: http://www.caribbean360

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