In Brazil, Women Have Better Schooling than Men, But Worse Wages

Brazilian women conquered more space on the labor market in 2003 and surpassed men in years of schooling. But they were unable to overcome their disadvantages compared with men in terms of salaries and positions.

This is one of the main findings of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistic’s (IBGE) Synthesis of Social Indicators, 2004.


According to the study, the number of women who worked as employees in 2003 grew 4% in comparison with 2002, from 37.6% to 41.6%.


There were also significant increases in the proportions of women in the categories of domestic workers (from 14.5% to 18.6%) and employers (from 0.8% to 2.7%).


On the other hand, female participation declined in the categories of unpaid workers (from 13.4% to 10.1%) and self-employed workers (from 24.3% to 17.5%).


On the male side, the situation remained practically unchanged between 2002 and 2003. Over half the men were either employees (55.7%), self-employed workers (27.1%), or employers (5.5%).


The study also reveals that female employment is still concentrated in the service sector (49.1%), just as in 2002, with a slight increase (0.5%) in the sector of commerce and repairs.


According to the study, women’s greater involvement in the labor market, together with financial constraints, had a direct effect on the birth rate in 2003.


Of the 48.3 million women in the fertile age bracket (15-49) in 2003, 63% had at least one child. The proportion of women in this age bracket with over three children declined around 1%.


The percentage of adolescents between the ages of 15 and 17 with at least one child fell from 7.2% in 2002 to 6.5% in 2003. In the North and South regions, however, the trend was in the opposite direction.


The greatest increase occurred in the South (25.5%), as against the North’s 13.0%.


Translation: David Silberstein
Agência Brasil

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