Jobs have no gender

Guest Author 3 septiembre 2015 Comments

Written by Marina Bassi and Daniel Alonso


When we talk about gender inequality, we tend to associate it with disadvantages of girls and women in different dimensions. It is well documented that women participate less in the labor market, and those who work are more concentrated in informal jobs and careers less paid than men. Even in equivalent occupations, women earn less than their male counterparts with the same qualifications. At school, several studies show that in most countries, girls have a worse performance in math and science. These information is relevant, since these skills are considered important for further development in the labor market, and play a key role in the career choice, which, in part, explains the wage gap between genders.


Although these important gaps remain, there is hope! The world is constantly changing and in the last decades, various trends begin to show improvements towards gender equality. And Latin America is not an exception. For example, one of the most significant changes in the region has been the access of girls and women to education. Today, more than half of the students at the secondary level are women. Thirty years ago more than 55% of students at higher education were male, and now it is exactly the opposite. Moreover, not only more girls and women are attending school and college, but also have an academic performance that is higher on average than their male colleagues.

In the Latin American labor market there have been also changes in favor of women. The female labor participation rate has grown steadily since the early 80s and the wage gap shows signs of gradual improvement.

What about boys and men? Are all the advances in gender equality improvements related to women? The Economist magazine published a few weeks ago an interesting article about what its called “the weaker sex”. According to this article, the developed economies have taken an important turn to the demand of skills in the labor market. “New economy skills,”as they call them, are those cognitive and social-emotional non-routine skills that have a greater importance against the manual and routine skills that are easily replaceable by technology. The ones that have been more affected by these trend are precisely male workers, especially the less educated, whose jobs use to require these type of skills.

Latin American men are also suffering these changes. In five of the largest countries in the region (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Peru)  the sectors that generated fewer jobs since 1997 employed 81% of men, while in the sectors with the highest growth, men accounted for 51%.

What should be done? We believe that in our region there is plenty of room for children and men to reconvert the skills they develop in school and in the labor market. Society and schools should support them, leaving behind gender stereotypes that also affect them. It seems a good time to rethink the role that each of us “should” have and forget the prejudices and stereotypes. As The Economist article pointed out, if women have discovered that they can be surgeons and physicists without losing their femininity, men need to understand that manual jobs are not coming back and they can also be nurses and teachers without losing their masculinity.



Daniel Alonso Soto is currently a consultant for the Vice Presidency for Sectors and Knowledge at the IDB and he is involved in projects related to school-to-work transition. He previously worked in the Labor Markets Division, the Office of Evaluation and Oversight and the Education Division. He joined the IDB from the University of Oviedo, where he was a teacher and researcher. Daniel holds a Masters in Economics and Finance and a PhD in Applied Economics from the University of Navarra. 

Marina Bassi is Advisor to the Vice-President of Sectors and Knowledge of the IDB. Before this position, she worked as a Senior Economics Education Specialist at the Division of Education of the IDB. Since she joined the IDB in 2005, Marina Bassi worked as Economist in the Research Department and the Operational Department for the Southern Cone in Washington DC, and as Education Specialist in the country office of the IDB in Chile. She has a PhD degree in Economics from the University of California at Los Angeles, with specialization in development economics, education economics and labor markets.


    2 thoughts on “Jobs have no gender

    1. momogrosir

      yes i agree with this article. all human can get their ideal job without see their gender.
      please contact me at

    2. Ari Aisen

      This is an outstanding article!

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