Gender and Salaries of the Qualified
Workforce in Brazil and Mexico
Maria Cristina Cacciamali and Fbio Tatei
FINAL CONSIDERATIONS ( ...continuation )

Gender differences can slowly be reduced in countries with machista and sexist traditions as is the case for the countries studied which leads us to confirm the importance of promoting effective public policies to combat social gender differences. Rubery et al. (1999) maintains that although the majority of specialists recognize that there is discrimination against women in the labor market, many argue that this behavior is due to market failures, which could be eliminated by making labor relations more flexible. However, for the authors mentioned, this justification is not valid, insofar as deregulating the labor market tends to deepen salary differences between men and women.

Literature on the need for State policies to overcome social prejudice is significant in the field of gender equality to combat poverty and promote sustainable growth. Some studies indicate that equality has seen more advances in access to education than in positive mobility in the labor market to reach executive and decision-making positions that provide women with economic and political power, and is a common barrier for high-level professionals. Recent studies on the Brazilian labor market, for example, show that by controlling for personal characteristics, geography and type of labor contract, resistance to hiring women is greater than it is for hiring black or mixed-race men, and that restrictions on employing women increase as the positions become higher up in the career ladder (Maria Cristina Cacciamali and Maria de Ftima Jos-Silva, 2008).

In the qualified labor market, resistance is centered around traditional behavior, determined by criteria and norms that have been established based on masculine values and patterns, and which are still reproduced on a broad scale, with the male tendency for self-protection and maintaining their own executive positions. Recent research has also shown that a woman who does manage to reach an executive position is generally under the shadow or protection of a man in a prestigious role who supports her, and for whom she feels loyalty and admiration (Maria Cristina Cacciamali, Fbio Tatei, 2011).

Fostering gender equality requires laws that penalize prejudiced or gender discriminatory actions. Impunity is an incentive to maintain the status quo. Beyond the legal framework to guarantee gender equality, linking financing, incentives and targeted initiatives structural and decisive elements in designing successful public programs structural changes will be necessary to create values and orient relationships with women in public spaces, which have traditionally been masculine. An important step would be to alter the mentality regarding gender relations in the educational system and other social institutions, such as health, political and economic management, among others. For example, the school system still has not seen a systematic implementation of practices that value and maintain gender equality using teaching materials or disciplinary content, ranging from primary to higher education. In this sense, institutional changes would also influence social networks and promote another way of seeing women, as part of society, as well as help women to see themselves differently by opening up new pathways to discover their potential. Besides these changes, this text sets forth three proposals to support positive social mobility for women. The first would be to increase gender equality in decision-making positions of the three branches of State power. This would provide women, as well as other disadvantaged social groups, with an entrance to rise through merit. Second, introduce incentives for companies that promote gender equality by having identical professional training courses and developing the same skills for both genders. This would increase the chance that women can compete to access higher hierarchical positions of power. The third point would be to increase the valuation of the female gender beyond the social role typically attributed to women, through communication media and cultural devices. Constant messages regarding the positive role of women in a wide array of social functions would provide both subjective and objective factors to alter the framework of traditional social values, as well as to overcome prejudices that employers may have regarding more opportunities for women to specialize professionally, participate in training programs and undergo continued education. These factors would allow women to compete for access to more prestigious positions, higher up on the career ladder.