Let’s talk about “gender equality”

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It’s undeniable that Venezuelan society is sexist.dia-de-la-mujer-anunicos-machistas-retro

From the silly facts – the women can flutter their eyelashes at male waiters to get an extra basket of bread, while men are [supposedly] better than women at changing tires – to the very real but horrible fact that a more than capable woman might not get hired when the potential boss finds out that she might want to have kids in the near future.

We’ve been asked time and time again if we ever felt discriminated for being women.

Honestly, we’re lucky because we’ve never felt directly discriminated… until now.

We are both economists, and during our 5 years of undergrad education, we had something like 40 different professors of which 9 were women and only one taught a core course (the others taught, if you will, instrumental courses). And it might sound kind of delusional, but we never bothered to take a real look at this … until now. It was not relevant. We assumed that professors were the best in their area, regardless of gender.

At the beginning of our professional experience, we never felt discriminated for being women. It was not an issue. Sometimes there is the notion that women are more organized and have a keen eye for detail. But that was pretty much it.

This year, for the first time, we felt discriminated.

We were invited to do a couple of interviews and presentations because we “are women”. In one case, we were specifically told that they needed to fill a gender quota.

While those who invited us commented that it was awesome to see women talking about economics in Venezuela, we wondered: if we were men, would they have invited us? We are not sure… but probably not.

After reading the first version of the post, Juan asked us: “But… have you ever not been invited because you are women?”. We really don’t know… but we hope not.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2014, “people and their talents are two of the core drivers of sustainable, long-term economic growth. If half of these talents are underdeveloped or underutilized, the economy will never grow as it could.”

Therefore, every person -regardless of gender- should compete under the same standards and be paid on the same basis, allowing society to benefit from their talents. And this should also apply to the political sphere.

Now, the electoral authorities put the subject on the table… for the wrong reasons.

“Gender equality” turned into a very popular topic, right after the electoral authorities approved the 40%-60% female-male min-max quotas for the parliamentary candidacy lists.

There are many women in key positions inside the government. In contrast, the opposition has few women in key positions. We don’t agree with the governments’ ways, and the merits of its female combatientes are debatable, but many women are recognised as part of the chavista cúpula. In the opposition, most women tend to be in technical or instrumental positions -by choice or because they think is the “way in.” There are very few “female faces” of MUD. And let’s not forget the “first ladies”.

A few weeks ago Audrey posted “the government is using this [“full on gender equality” in the candidate lists] to hinder the elections, but look at the bigger picture, you should recognize that you have dropped the ball on gender issues”.

We totally agree: it is simply wrong to use gender equality to hinder the elections. But if MUD had more women on its ranks -not on support roles, but actual key positions-, the gender quota wouldn’t be a problem at all. It would only be another check in the requirements list.

Then again, there is a big difference between what is and what should be.

MUD should -like Audrey said- recognize that they “have dropped the ball on gender issues” and start being more open to women participation. And we are not talking about rallies to celebrate International Women’s Day or having the “first ladies” sit next to Chuo Torrealba during press conferences. We are talking about genuine female representation to defend issues like “same standards and same pay” for men and women.

But we, women, should also be asking ourselves: what can we do to play the political game in Venezuela? And even more so, what can we do to be treated as equals in the professional sphere?

A few seem to have found the formula, but can it be replicated? What would it take? Are we women willing to jump in, play the game and -why not- change the rules?

We think that the real fight should be in the “same standards and same pay” area, and not in the “gender quota” area.

hervotes-jobs-rosie-the-riveterWe should fight for better government policies, to help develop an environment where women’s participation –in business, politics, education, innovation and everywhere- is encouraged.

A good policy for gender equality should start by investing in women’s health and education, and Venezuela has a long way to go in this topic. Just to name a couple indicators from the World Health Organization: from 2000 to 2013, Venezuela’s maternal mortality ratio went up from 91 to 110 deaths per 100,000 births; and the country has the largest teenage birth rate in South America (101 per 1000 girls aged 15 to 19).

With healthy and educated women, the next step should be to guarantee they are able to join the workforce.

According to the International Labour Office (ILO), sex discrimination persists in Latin America and the Caribbean “and has an important impact on the employment problems of women. Although the gender gap in labour force participation declined slightly, the unemployment rate of women is still 1.35 times that of men, and underemployment (considering income and hours) is also higher among women. The situation is worse for young women, who constitute 70% of young people who neither study nor work. Young women unemployment rate reached 17.7%, compared with 11.4% of young men”. Also, “Informality affects mostly women and youth”.

We should promote non-discrimination in hiring, offer equal family leave for men and women, implement flexible working time for mothers and/or provide childcare assistance. We should also promote entrepreneurship amongst women, giving them better access to credit and technical training. There are many options and many success stories.

In the end, we just want to be known for our work and our well-deserved achievements.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Oh no, not that topic again.. Stupid Quotas, of any kind..

    “Sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, delicate flower.”

    Whatever ‘Palante said back then in the extensive comment section is absolutely correct..

        • and BTW, retard, I use many names and many IP addresses, dumbo, you banned just one of them with your blog censorship here. Way to go, you’re like Masburro trying to ban Dolal Tudey!!

          • And the “intellectual” writer of this “prestigious” blog continues with his ad hominem attacks, out of nowhere, saying NOTHING about the topic itself, even attacking guys like Gustavo Coronel, trying to ban IP addresses like a retarded moron he is, calling bloggers “asshole” ad hominem. As you can READ right here.

            Ass wipe, look at the mirror (avoid that retarded ZOMBIE picture you have here, for your own good)

          • If you hate this guy and his blog so much why you keep coming here with your silly nicknames posting like a madman? just think about that.

          • Wrong. I have posted many comments here, and that’s my real name.

            (I might have posted under some clever “handle”, but I never thought of one.)

          • Hay que conseguirle un videojuego para que ocupe el tiempo en la computadora de una forma más productiva, algo como Farmville donde haya que pasar meses para lograr alguna cosa.

          • Given the topic of this post I thought this might be appropriate …

            or really not.

            Crap, take a look at them go. Is that sexist?

  2. I wonder if economists have identified a correlation between levels of gender equality and productivity in an economy. It just strikes me as logical that unproductive economies will have less rational labour markets ie labour markets that make irrational distinctions based on irrelevant characteristics.

    • might be difficult to compare economies, when variables to allow for gender parity are so different across the board. I’m talking about the availability or extent of social nets that would assist or smooth out the highly disruptive occurrences in that economy. Among the most widespread of disruptions to that gender parity would be childbirth and the raising of that child for, say, 25% of the population?

  3. It is sad that there are no statistics on pay difference between men and women that can be reliable. That is the ultimate ratification of discrimination.
    I’m not a woman and of course I can’t say anything about what a woman experience is. In my experience, I studied economics at the University of Carabobo and several of the Core subjects were taught by women (econometrics, statistics, finance, accounting, Macro) I graduated with at least 60% women and in FACES the split was right about that if not more.

    Now, there is a reality in Venezuela a lot of women graduate with no intention of working in the field. what percentage it is, don’t know but is there.

    • It is curious that around 80% of people graduating from chemical engineering school in the UC are woman, while 95% of those graduating in mechanical school are men. It happens that chemical engineering in venezuela offers less jobs and are lesser paid than all other branches.

      I didn’t see any gender discrimination in engineering faculty. But it happens that most woman choose the least profitable branch in the field. Should we introduce then gender quotas across all branches to force them to earn better, I don’t think that that would be fair nor democratic but it would be interesting to see if it would do any good in the long run.

      • My guess as to why women- such as my sister- choose chemical engineering as opposed to mechanical engineering is that chemical engineering requires less three-dimensional visualization than mechanical engineering.
        Regarding salaries: when my sister got her degree in chemical engineering, ChemE grads had higher starting salaries than civil or mechanical, and about the same as electrical. Which was higher at the time, I don’t recall. This is US anecdote, not Venezuela anecdote.

  4. It begins from how parents treat boys and girls then goes into everyday relationships and continues into all aspects of life.
    Women have to be taught from an early age to know what they have to offer is great and they can lead.
    They have to be exposed to proper female role models and not only the soap opera ones.

  5. “Therefore, every person -regardless of gender- should compete under the same standards and be paid on the same basis, allowing society to benefit from their talents”.

    You’re missing the point. There are major structural biases that play against women and make it *impossible* for you to be judged the same as a man. You cannot just urge men to do the right thing and expect that centuries of entrenched sexism disappear at the sight of your degree, action must be taken. You have described some of the changes, but it would seem your purpose is to say that we need to do what you say INSTEAD of implementing quotas. And here you’re wrong.

    Quotas might seem like a band-aid, but coupled with a comprehensive strategy to end inequality they can be useful, particularly in developing countries. And this http://goo.gl/8tv0fl is not http://goo.gl/V99o6L just http://goo.gl/2ZGryn progressivist http://goo.gl/Hwofrh talk.

    An invisible hand is not going to usher the emergence of a fairer society,…

  6. This is just plain common sense , if you have a resource of whatever gender , you want to have the best and to make use of the best , and you pay accordingly , maybe gender was more of an issue decades ago but for a lot of time now gender barriers have fallen down considerably and will keep coming down because there are so many hard working well organized talented women out there and their numbers keep growing . Dont think there is anyone who nowadays can credibly oppose the hiring or promotion of women to the top positions purely for reasons of gender. There are if not barriers invisible obstacles that sometimes affect the hiring of women , for instance you expect someone to be fully dedicated to a time demanding career with all that involves and you may suspect that some women will work for a while and then slack off or abandon their careers after a lot of development effort has gone into capacitating them because they choose to become full or part time homemakers which is something that happens all the time . Maybe this an old prejudice but some bosses may still have this fear.. Then there are jobs where women or men generally tend to do better than those of the other gender . I myself am prejudiced in that I truly believe women are more organized , methodical , precise and reliable for doing a lot of meticulous jobs , so maybe I am prejudiced against giving men that kind of jobs , there are other jobs where you have to be brazenly assertive and which many women can do but which if done by a women are taken badly by the person at the other end , specially if they are male who feel unpleasantly intimidated . Even if the latter appear to be enlightened on gender issues . On the other hand there are women who using a softer touch can get more done than the brazen assertive guy , as there are males who drop their defenses when having a female on the other end .

    What I really worry about is the way women are treated by their male partners ( and allow themselves to be treated) in their couple relationships , specially among the poorest of our countrymen , how they allow themselves to became attached to stupid machista men who later abandon them with a child or a family and then the woman is left all alone to care for their brood and he simply is allowed to move away from his parental responsibilities , I feel that much much harm has been done to the children born of those relationships and ultimately to the country itself by the condonance and encouragement of such irresponsible male behaviour . That more should be done to make women more assertive in defending their rights in that kind of situation and in forcing men to take up their parental responsibilities when they cease to do so . Women are apparently taught that to have a male who represents her is an absolute necessity and that to bind the men to them they have to give him a child. I would favour stronger encouragement of women use of long time contraceptives when their relationships are predicably not firm or when they already have a child to take care of and the new partner is prepared to provide her with another one.

    Streghtening family ties and the social mores that make women more willing to protect their dignity in couple relationships would I feel go along way towards allowing us to move towards becoming a better country . Its unconsciounable how men are allowed by the culture to act as roaming irresponsible ´padrotes’ and how women let them do it. Being a responsible parent partner is the mark of being a responsible citizen , This cultural priviledged cult of machismo by both women and men is the greatest obstacle to our becomming a better country , even in political terms .

  7. If you want to defeat sexism in Venezuela, you should go to the actual root of the problem: The widespread and accepted belief that women are for nothing more than having kids, cooking and cleaning, which is the mindset of like 80% of the country’s population, being more concentrated in the most poor sectors.

  8. When will you girls post bikini pictures of yourselves?
    I am feeling lecherous, but its too early in the day to be drunk.

    But on a side note, I travel using mass transportation (I am usually too drunk, so I think its best not to own a vehicle).
    I have never, ever, had a woman bus driver in Latin America.
    I have used local buses, international buses, old school buses (depending upon the country, with or without a chicken as a fellow passenger). Never a woman driver.
    And as an opposite note, in the US I have never had a woman dentist, but every dentist I have ever gone to in Latin America has been a woman.
    Why are a preponderance of dentists women but not one bus driver (that I have seen)?

  9. What about the society in general? If Malala Yousafzai was still living in Pakistan, her chances of doing what she is doing now would be very slim.
    With the current political atmosphere and the government controlling early education in Venezuela, nothing will change soon.
    It would take a Margaret Thatcher kind of woman to motivate the country

  10. I’m all for equality. Actually the more ladies, the better. Every time I’ve hired people, especially to work directly for me, I’ve been partial to hire good looking ladies, so sue me for such outrageous Machismo! I’ve had 3 secretaries, all very efficient, all great looking on top of it, only fooled around with one of them and respected all 3! Go figure, that’s real life.

    Heck one must understand why women obviously do not want to get into our filthy politics nearly half as much as men do. It’s a rotten world. Women are usually smarter than men, so they avoid politics. No wonder even the corrupt PSUV has tons of trouble filling their own stupid quota with their own women.

    But if we go by the “Girls of Chavismo”.. plenty of them around with lots of power, from our dignified First “Lady”, Cilia Flores, who some say totally controls Masburro, to All Mighty Lady Lucifer Luisa Ortega, to our Seven (7) totally inept and corrupt “Ministras”, or TibiBitch: Corruption and Evil personified, or the most “delicate flower” of all, Iris Varela.. not to mention the other “segunda dama” en poder, another devil in disguise, a sinister Machiavellian whore, partly in charge of stealing the next elections with Chavez’s Smartmatic, plus our her leading role in ruining Vzla’s entire International Image, the abominable Lady Delcy Rodriguez..

    Or look at the current female-presidents in our little Continent, Dilma, Michelle or Cristina : 3 inept BOMBS.

    Why should we assume that the Chavista-light future MUD will be much better with these draconian female quotas? There’s a reason most civilized countries reject them, as we thoroughly discussed on the “sausage” post. Including France, and many others, who have very, very different types of suggested Incentives, not solid quotas, for increased diverse gender participation.

    • You are a real gem, a true patriot!

      You slept with only one of your secretaries! What restraint!

      You are truly a role model.

      When I grow up I want to be just like you!

    • “Every time I’ve hired people, especially to work directly for me, I’ve been partial to hire good looking ladies, so sue me for such outrageous Machismo! I’ve had 3 secretaries, all very efficient, all great looking on top of it, only fooled around with one of them and respected all 3!”

      In your wildest dreams!

      Are there any psychologists out there that can give us a read on this twisted, little man?

      • I’ve come to think he or she is actually working for the PSUV as a paid troll, put there to always bring the conversation back to “Kleptozuela”, “Masburrismo” and Dictatorship as the only viable solution.

        With a soupcon of “los pobres son pobres porque quieren serlo y solo basta una mata de platano en cada concuco para vivir”

        • The give away line that arouses my own suspicion is that his rants always end with an all out attack on the MUD , like saying not much difference between the two so why support them. !! Something that favours the regimes own effort at totally discrediting the MUD , the most dangerous of its political enemies.

          • Billy Boy, joining the ad hominem punks now? We’ve had extensive discussions on multiple subjects for many months, you dumbo. I just got tired of your interminable granpa ramblings. If you’re gonna say something about someone, PUNKS, say it to them straight.

            My posts do not “always end” with attacks on the MUD, dumbo, READ them, and say that’s true.
            Actually, your buddy’s Torito and others have critized the MUD much more heavily and consistently, and I’ve had to defend it! (Consecutive attacks on Capriles the populist or Freedy the radical right”).

            But yes, I think the MUD will be a mess, and the only solution would be an Authoritarian Regime of sorts, a Pinochet or MPJ type, unfortunately at this point, something that Lots of international observers and even many of the readers here silently agree on. You are entitled to your opinion, as long, but talk to me straight, you WEASEL, if you’re gonna go ad hominem too.

      • And your points about the specific subject at hand is?

        ZERO.

        This is inevitably what you get from Retards, stupid cherry-picking and/or ad hominems.

        I made my specific points about this subject abundantly clear.

        What have you contributed with such childish, brain-lobotomy comments? ZILCH.

      • Are there any psychologists out there that can give us a read on this twisted, little man?

        None that I know of. But the makers of Clearasil see a vibrant market opportunity, when Tony is not hirin’ or boinkin’ his *people*.

  11. I have a certain sympathy for the MUD on making the inclusion of women an overiding priority issue , In the PSUV its a finger deciding who gets in and whose left out , their basic credentials are irrelevant , they are all in the flapping pinguin category . In contrast in the MUD you have a bunch of different parties each with its own specific goals and personalities and prioties so that getting them to act together , to take decisions all can join in is TOUGH WORK , addind to that piece of very difficult work the prioritization of the gender inclusion item makes it even more tough. All this while having to face all the obstacles and traps and abuses that the regime heaps on them . While simpathyzing with the idea that more effort should in general be made to include competent females in their candidate rosters , I would give them a bit of slack considering the extreme difficulty of the task they have in front of them .

    Quotas for me are an aberration , the best persons should always be selected regardless of gender and I would stick to that formula even if its politically sexy to include more women in ones list , My own view is that if you apply selection standards fairly there are enough able women who can fend on their own and get the job without the use of any artificial privileges . There are many women in top profile positions within the oppo , MCM and Lillian Lopez and Mz Ledezma are a case in point , sometimes i suspect that these last two at times even top their husbands as political leaders . In time more will arise from the sheer ability which they possses.

    What continues to bother me is that all the attention is concentrated on the political representation part and not on all those women who have no ambition or desire to enter into political careers and yet suffer from many abuses from their male relations and the damage that perverse cultural mores inflict on them , on their children and on the country itself without anyone raising a voice in their defense . Its as if the only women that matter are those interested in high profile political or professional careers, i.e middle class women influenced by hyped up first world concerns. The problems of sexism in Venezuela are much more serious than they appear to be in the US and Developed Europe , but they are far removed from the role of women in electoral politics , For Gods sake we are losing fast the last remnant of the countries chances of restoring its democracy and in the struggle to retain it , the added factor of gender equality is foisted on them as something that must recieve special priority .!! Lets make a point of remembering all those other women who are victims of machista sexism and try and make their protection also a priority part of the agenda .!!

    • Bill:

      Quotas are, sometimes, a necessary evil and sometimes the easy way out.

      What’s important is that if quotas are needed on a temporary basis, the underlying reasons for it should also be resolved so that quotas are no longer necessary.

      Unfortunately rarely is this the case, and then quotas become the easy way out, albeit helping to perpetuate the very reasons they were applied in the first place, sort of a Vicious Catch 22 circle of the worst kind.

      In the example of the CNE requiring gender quotas, it is actually more despicable because it is done not necessarily to correct an imbalance, but to place a stumbling block in the way of the opposition.

      As to your very valid point that gender inequality in the home, in society, etc is a bigger problem, I agree 100%.

      But I also think that if we did indeed have more women in places of power, then we could also see a betterment of that inequality that is so harmful overall.

  12. Thanks for your comment Robert , Im afraid that I honestly feel that imposed quotas whatever the circumstances allow the mediochre to be chosen above the talented and thats unjust and often has a boomerang effect making prejudices more rooted , I m also prejudiced in that I believe there is no stopping women once the doors open to their participation in any kind of profession or activity , By way of example I sometimes mention my own experience years ago when I had to hire two professionals , put out a press announcement and there were over a 1000 applicants . Because I couldnt interview a 1000 people I had a subordinate select 20 of the best using a Checking list of the most desired qualifications , of the 20 applicants selected 18 were women and 2 were men, later on checking the CV’s I discovered that one of the men didnt belong there and was covertly included at the behest of a lady in the firm . I ended by hiring two lady applicants . They were top grade and now at least one of them is an executive in a transnational living abroad. My own much loved daughter is a working professional now living abroad . I have a niece who is currently abroad and who is so talented that if she ever got to restart her professional actitvities I m sure would achieve remarkable work . Im kind of prejudiced in that I believe it is in the nature of excelence that it has no gender or racial preferences . Also, and forgive the obstinacy that we should never create one to compensate for historical injustices. That would be doing an injustice by reversing the victim of its past application.

  13. I would love to talk about gender equality in Venezuela… right after democracy, the rule of law, and conditions for civil discourse and debate have been reestablished.

  14. There are people who relish being visceral, brash , offensive , exultantly uncompromising and antagonistic in their views and judgments , who above all glory in the crass agonal vehemence of their emotions , in Venezuela we call them querrequerres , I suspect such behaviour helps them feel artificially strong and brave and manly , perhaps to compensate for qualities they lack in their day to day personal lives.

    . Of course there is a cost to adopting such histrionically charged stances however much they inflame their ever needy vanity . often a certain impoverishment in their capacity to view things in their full complexity and nuanced ambivalence . with balance and insight . These are people who would rather wield a hatchet or hammer than a scapel to go into the heart of an issue . basically they are people bashers , bullies who enjoy nothing more than to insult and denigrate other men for vices maybe they are inclined to practice themselves, !! thats why they obssess so much about blaming others for them. I think Marx and Luther despite their intellectual gifts were these kind of men.

    Chavez of course excelled in this type of behaviour , There are some in this blog who profess to condem Chavez and who yet act very much like him in their malevolently aggresive spirit , in the way they gloat making up asinine insults , insults worthy of a beavis and buthead adolescent mind , above all in their lack of civility with those they want to engage with discussions they cant really have because they lack the intellectual wherwithal to follow them to any reasonable conclusion.

    Typically these men are of authoritarian bent , irascible with people who dont kowtow to their impatient, mishappened and impatient opinions .

  15. 25,000 people are murdered in Venezuela every year. What share of those murdered are men? 95%? (I’m assuming it’s the same share of my country, what probably is the case).

    Men are being exterminated in Venezuela as we speak. If you are a female in Venezuela, the chances of you being killed are much smaller. I’m not denying that Venezuela is sexist, it certainly is, but it’s a peculiar sexist society in which is much better to be a woman if you long to have white hair some day.

    “We should promote non-discrimination in hiring: implement flexible working time for mothers and/or provide childcare assistance. ”

    You can’t have both that at the same time. If you are going to “implement flexible working time for mothers and/or provide childcare assistance”, you will make hiring women costlier, and businessmen will answer by not hiring women in fertile age, or with kids, unless you ‘force’ them to hire women, ‘Chavista style’. All female business owners I know prefer to NOT hire young women/women with young children exactly because of what you propose to help them: “flexible working time for mothers/provide childcare assistance”. Specially when the GDP is shrinking.

    As an economist, you are aware of a concept called “trade-off”.

    • Well, the fact that men are offed more often than women might be because of the little fact that most violent criminals are male, while the women in the “malandro society” are either in supporting positions (madres alcagüetas) or as furniture for the macho malandros (paridoras)

      And yes, there’s that little disadvantage of having to deal with forced extended periods of non-working time due to childcare stuff, stuff that I remember a chavista customer claiming it was unfair that a male parend would ask for said stuff because they’re not birthing the child (’cause, yeah, male single parents don’t exist it seems…)

      • Well, if most violent criminals are male, we have yet another evidence of how male-unfriendly Venezuelan society is. A good government would try to understand why this trend is happening, and curb the process.

  16. If the MUD had held primaries for all positions and few women registered to be candidates, what would be the argument.

    Let’s face it, if we want to be a society with equality, rights and freedom, we have to start at the bottom: democracy. As long as candidates are decided in smoked filled rooms (by mostly men), our society will continue to be really screwed up. Even the Constitution says:

    “Sus organismos de dirección y sus candidatos o candidatas a cargos de elección popular serán seleccionados o seleccionadas en elecciones internas con la participación de sus integrantes”

    But this does not happen, and I dont hear many people complaining about it.

    If the MUD had held primaries for all positions, we would not be talking about it.

    And Ramos Allup would not be a candidate either.
    (I have been driving this point since 1998… the usual response is: Its too expensive. Come one, democracy is about volunteers y patear la calle)

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