Women in Mexico earn 14% less than men on average, and over two-thirds of working women receive salaries equivalent to less than double the minimum wage of 173 pesos (US $8.80) per day, a new study has found.
Completed by the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), the study measured the gender pay gap in Mexico and nine other countries. The data for Mexico comes from INEGI, the national statistics institute.
While the pay gap in Mexico was the second lowest among 10 countries including the United States, Chile, the United Kingdom and Japan, the think tank said that doesn’t mean there is “greater equity” in the Mexican labor market.
The gender pay gap in Mexico is lower than that in Iceland and the U.K, IMCO said, but the 14% figure doesn’t acknowledge the fact that “very few women” enter the “remunerated economy” in Mexico. Among those who do, 70% earn less than two minimum salaries, IMCO said, meaning that most women earn less than US $18 per day.
Few women progress to “better-paid decision-making positions” during their working lives, the think tank said.
At the presentation of the study on Tuesday in Mexico City, IMCO director Valeria Moy acknowledged that the gender pay gap has declined from 20% in 2005, but said that the progress achieved has been “very slow.”
“If women want to have the same average yearly income as men, they would have to work 51 additional days,” she said.
Laura Tamayo, an official with the Business Coordinating Council – a private-sector organization that supported the IMCO study – said that the gender pay gap is another expression of the sexism that exists in Mexico and other countries around the world.
Among Mexico’s 32 federal entities, IMCO found that Oaxaca has the largest gender pay gap, followed by Colima and Hidalgo. Women in those states earn on average salaries that are about three-quarters the size of those received by men.
The only state where women earn more than men on average is Chiapas. IMCO found that women in the southern state, one of Mexico’s poorest, earn 10.2% more than men. One reason for that situation, the think tank said, is that large numbers of men in Chiapas work in low paid agricultural and construction jobs.
Across Mexico, women face a “series of barriers” to enter and remain in the workforce and to advance in their careers, IMCO said.
“Among them: a greater nonremunerated work burden, … which translates into shorter [paid] working days … [and] prevailing gender stereotypes that cause a greater concentration of female or male labor in certain sectors and occupations,” it said.
Occupational segregation “reduces average incomes for women in comparison with men,” IMCO said.
According to the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, “occupational segregation occurs when one demographic group is overrepresented or underrepresented among different kinds of work or different types of jobs.”
The sector with the largest gender pay gap in Mexico is the media, with women earning 33% less than men on average. Women earn 27% less than men in the nongovernment services sector, 26% less in retail, 24% less in manufacturing and 24% less in the accommodation and restaurant sector, IMCO said.
However, women employed in the real estate, construction and mining sectors earn more than men on average. Salaries for women are 43% higher for women in the first case, 33% higher in the second and 25% higher in the third, the study found.
Mexican women were also found to earn more than men in the electricity, water and gas sector, the agriculture industry and when working for the government or an international organization.
IMCO said that the sectors in which women earn more than men on average are characterized by having a low percentage of female employees. The comparatively small number of women who work in those sectors are employed in “better jobs” than many men who work in the same industries, the think tank said.
“For example, only 4% of people who work in construction are women, but the majority have a bachelor’s degree and enter administrative positions in which they earn higher average incomes than men,” IMCO said.
Fátima Masse, an IMCO official who led the study, said there is no “magical solution” to end the gender pay gap, but to help close that which exists across most sectors of the Mexican economy, the think tank proposed five measures, including working to combat gender-based occupational segregation so that more women enter sectors and jobs in which they will receive better remuneration.
IMCO also said that workplaces should undertake “self-diagnoses” to establish the reasons why women and men are paid differently, and “move toward salary transparency” – disclose how much employees earn, in other words.
In addition, employers should “eliminate practices that perpetuate income inequality” and “implement policies that promote work-life balance.”
Some of the aforesaid practices that should be eliminated, IMCO said, are asking potential employees how much they earned in previous jobs; taking people’s marital status, age and whether they have children into account when determining whether to hire them or not; and stating in a job ad that the position is for a man because it has traditionally been done by people of that gender.