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Study reveals high gender inequality in companies in Latin America and the Caribbean

There are large gender gaps in the business world of Latin America and the Caribbean, where women hold only 15% of management positions and own only 14% of companies, according to a study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The study, entitled "An Unequal Olympiad: Gender Equity in Latin American and Caribbean Companies" (available in Spanish), also reveals that only in one out of ten companies is the main manager position held by a woman.

According to the report, the participation of women in leadership positions, the level of training of the workforce, the use of advanced technologies, and a favorable business culture are the main factors that affect gender equality in companies in the region.

“Gender inequality, particularly in the labor market, has hampered economic growth and social development in the region for too long. That is why investing in female leadership and promoting women-owned businesses is essential to drive strong and sustainable growth throughout Latin America and the Caribbean”, said IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone.

Gender equality is one of the five pillars of "Vision 2025", the IDB's plan to achieve a sustainable recovery and economic and social development in the region. This strategy includes the design of incentives to finance initiatives and companies led by women, as well as improvements in access to financial systems.

The study was based on interviews with women entrepreneurs and a survey of 1,015 companies from 20 countries in the region on female participation in their organizations, policies towards their employees and the impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study includes recommendations such as the implementation of gender quota legislation, the transparent publication of salary information, the creation of training programs and the development of an agenda that facilitates the balance between paid and unpaid work assumed by the majority of women. women.

Among the main findings are:

  • Women participation predominates significantly in areas considered soft, such as communication and public relations. In harsh areas, such as foreign trade, women represent less than 35% of the people employed.
  • There is a higher rate of women in lower positions (36%) than in higher positions (25%).
  • Women represent only 35% of the workforce that uses advanced technologies.
  • Six out of 10 companies do not provide any type of maternity leave beyond what is determined by law.
  • Only 15% of companies analyze whether there are salary gaps within their organization.

The study was carried out by the Integration and Trade Sector of the IDB and its Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (INTAL), IDB Invest, which collaborates with the private sector, and the Gender Division of the IDB.

"Gender equality contributes to poverty reduction and improves the quality of human capital for future generations," said Fabrizio Opertti, manager of the Integration and Trade Sector. “We focus on understanding the link between the level of internationalization of firms and their gender equity. The results indicate that it is key that the governments of the region can negotiate trade agreements that include gender clauses to create more and better jobs for women” he added.

Gema Sacristán, IDB Invest's business general director, said that “We are facing a unique opportunity for international investors to finance the recovery of Latin America and the Caribbean through women. Also, for local investors, especially institutional ones, who are increasingly interested in the sustainable agenda”.

About IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region. Access our virtual tour

About IDB Invest 

IDB Invest, a member of the IDB Group, is a multilateral development bank committed to promoting the economic development of its member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean through the private sector. IDB Invest finances sustainable companies and projects to achieve financial results and maximize economic, social, and environmental development in the region. With a portfolio of $13.1 billion in asset management and 385 clients in 25 countries, IDB Invest provides innovative financial solutions and advisory services that meet the needs of its clients in a variety of industries. 


INTAL (Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean) is an organization of the Inter-American Development Bank, which is part of the Integration and Trade sector of said Institution. Created in 1965, it aims to promote the regional integration and international involvement agenda of LAC countries, generating qualitative and quantitative information, providing technical analysis, providing assistance to governments, developing training for public officials and businessmen from LAC countries, disseminating the scope, benefits and challenges of Latin American integration, among other issues.


Bachelet,Pablo A.

Bachelet,Pablo A.

Escudero,Ana Lucia

Escudero,Ana Lucia
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