Mind the Gap Between You and Men

Brazil is not a good country to be a woman. We are less paid, we are murdered, assaulted, violated, subdued. We have less chances to reach power positions, whether in private companies or the government. The jobs we do are seen as less important. We can not make free choices. And all this because of one detail: we are woman.

But, according to Brazilian constitution, constantly dismissed by our governors, we are equal under the law. Men have penis, we have vagine, they don’t get pregnant, we do get pregnant, our hormones are not the same. This is all biology. Anatomy. Frequently used to position woman in the second place, as Simone de Beauvoir said in 1949. But, under the law, we are all the same. Or should be. Even so employers, politicians and the society in a general way see men and women as different beings. And, of course, we are the second sex.

According to Global Gender Gap Index, disclosed by World Economic Forum in 2016, Brazil is de 79º less unequal country between the 144 evaluated. Taking in account political empowerment, educational attainment, economic participation and health and survival, Brazilian score was 0.687, being 1 the best and 0 the worst.

Looking carefully the Brazilian Gender Gap Index, we note that educational attainment and health are similar between men and women. The inequality that explains our position at the ranking is at political empowerment and economic participation. According to the IBGE research of 2014, brazilian women win 20% less than men. In politics, our positions drops ot 86º. Our past is shameful: only one woman reached the presidence. In national and local elections, only 30% of the ones running for public offices were woman. Only 1 of the 27 brazilian states is governed by a woman. Therefore, gender issue in our country is a political issue. And, of course, and economic issue. Brazilian women are paid, on average, 30% less than men, according to data of International Labour Organization.

The simple truth

The research “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap” of The American Association of University Women (AAUW) of 2017 analised the inequality scenario in United Stated. The study deepened on other factors that impact women’s wage and found some informations that can be seen in Brazil as well:

1) Location is important

In USA, women that work in New York have higher wages closer to men’s, winning approximately 10% less. In the worst state of the list, Wyoming, women receive almost 40% less than men. This difference also exists between Brazilian states. According to data of IBGE of 2015, Roraima is the state with the smallest gender pay gap, where women receive “only” 11% less than men. Mato Grosso do Sul has the biggest gap, with women receiving 65,1% of men’s wage.

2) Inequality is worse for black women

Black men win 20% less than white men, according to IBGE. Meanwhile, black women win half of white men’s wage.

3) It is e-ve-ry-where

The north american study discovered that gender pay gap increases with age. This may be better translated: the higher the office, the bigger the gap. And, in Brazil, a Catho’s research disclosed on International Woman’s Day shows that women are less paid than men in every office, from internship to management.

It is not that bad…

According to Global Gender Gap Index, Brazil is above average when comparing the educational attainment in other countries. And IBGE data of 2010 show that women’s schooling is higher than men’s. Although, this is not a positive aspect for women when it comes to market.

An analysis of these facts made by Agência Brasil showed that on the population with 12 years or more of schooling, the women’s average output per hour corresponds to 66% of the men’s. In the less educated population, this proportion increases to 78%. And the same relation was observed on AAWU studies, that concluded that education is not effective to solve gender pay gap, since women’s wage is negatively impacted by gender and race. So yes, it is that bad.

The worst gap

On basis of AAWU research, the fight for gender equality is directly linked with racial and economic issues. As said Simone de Beauvoir in “The Second Sex” book, published in 1949, “the social oppression that women suffer with is a consequence of an economic oppression”. Beauvoir argues that gender equality can only be reestablished when both genders come to be juridically equal. And for that to happen, we need to be a part of public activity.

Our economic role is seen as secondary. Brazilian president, Michel Temer, limited our “great participation” to “indicate the price mismatches in the supermarket”. While women aren’t seen as an essential part, just like man, of national business, we won’t make progress.

Natália Martins, Master’s in International Law at American University Washington College of Law and consultant of World Bank Group, argues that gender pay gap is also a cultural issue: “Pay gap between men and women is an outdated concept of an age when women had a different social role than nowadays.” And this role wasn’t negative, but different.

Beauvoir develops her theory in “The Second Sex” observing social construction of feminine gender though history and highlights that sexism doesn’t exist into the wild. Males have different roles from females, but at no time one or other role is seen as more important. In human beings’ world, although, several explanations come up to to bow down women: “I’ve heard many ‘excuses’ for the existence of those inequalities that go from women’s inability to divide their energies between work and family to a supposed lack of emotional control or lack of objectivity. I see these excuses as big lies. Women are equally capable of developing tasks that men do, with the same technique and commitment. Natalia herself, as many women, was less paid than her male counterparts, even when they were less qualified.

And all of these big lies ignore an important aspect of Brazilian society: 40% of homes are lead by women, according to IBGE date of 2014. Our growing access to market is one of the explanations for this scenario. And pay gap may be the explanation for that percentage not to be higher.

The harsh truth

Brazil is not a good country to be a woman because of sexism. Natalia believes that our choice of governors will reflect how gender equality history will unwind: “We are far from being considered a reference in those subjects, but the pursuit for equality must be daily, with awareness, paradigm break and, most importantly, social education. Our governors choices also dictate how our country will progress or regress on this issue. We can understand this a bit by hearing the criticism about the candidates’ proposals and everyday reactions about issues such as racism, domestic violence and women’s role on society.”