Gender Disparity Persists in Latin America: IDB
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Gender Disparity Persists in Latin America: IDB

Photo by:   Mohamed Hassan , Pixabay
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Anmol Motwani By Anmol Motwani | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Fri, 07/21/2023 - 16:17

In the fight for gender equality, a concerning trend continues to grip Latin America: women are notably absent from the highest echelons of corporate leadership, reveals a new report by The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The report underscores the underrepresentation of women on boards of directors, with a mere 15% representation. This inequality is further compounded by the region's lower levels of economic development. Cultural norms and entrenched stereotypes persist, shaping expectations and opportunities for women and perpetuating the belief that leadership roles are solely reserved for men. Consequently, women face barriers such as unconscious bias and limited access to networks that hinder their advancement to executive positions.

"The stereotypes relegate women to perform most of the unpaid care work in the home and hinder their access to new job opportunities," highlights the study.

A closer examination of data from Bloomberg Linea reveals a noticeable concentration of women in what are traditionally considered "soft areas" within companies. For example, women constitute 64% of the total number of employees in roles like human resources, followed by 63% in communication and public relations and 53% in social responsibility areas. However, their representation drops to less than 35% in areas like trade, operations and information technology.

Moreover, statistics show a stark discrepancy between the number of women in junior, administration or supervisory positions (25% of the workforce) and their representation in the most senior positions, where they are notably underrepresented.

Compounding the issue, the lack of family-friendly policies in workplaces acts as a deterrent for women pursuing ambitious career paths. A staggering 64% of women have expressed a need for flexible work arrangements, emphasizing the importance of accessible and affordable childcare. Women also face repercussions for pregnancy, childbirth and being working mothers, which adversely affects both employers and the well-being of mothers.

In Mexico, where women constitute 51% of the population, their participation in the labor market lags behind men by 32 percentage points. Only 38% of senior management positions are occupied by women.

To foster progress and promote equality, companies must embrace inclusive hiring practices and cultivate work environments that prioritize diversity. Extensive research supports the notion that empowering women is the key to a brighter future. Forbes suggests that companies with higher representation of women on their boards significantly outperform those lacking gender diversity. Additionally, organizations with a greater mix of female leaders at senior levels tend to experience increased profitability.

"While the representation of men and women at lower operational levels is relatively balanced, with a distribution of around 50/50, there is a significant decline in female representation as one moves up the managerial and leadership ladder. Therefore, supporting women's leadership development through mentorship and training programs is crucial," says Nelson Amparán, CEO, Academia Global.

Photo by:   Mohamed Hassan , Pixabay

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