Gender Gap

bpalls Authors Recommend 110 Comments

The World Economic Forum, based in Geneva, Switzerland, publishes an annual report on the roles of men and women in some 135 countries around the world. Each country is assigned a composite score that reflects the degree of equality between the sexes.

The Composite score (Gender Gap) as to how men and women fare is derived by examining: salary earned for equal work, decision making, education, and political empowerment. Viewed in the context of the 135 countries examined, each one is then ascribed a number, from #1 to #135: the smaller the number, the more equality exists between men and women in that country; the larger the number, the greater the degree of inequality between them.

The latest rankings available were those published in 2011. In that report, the Scandinavian countries continue to occupy the top places, while the Far Eastern and Arab countries will be found on the opposite end of the scale. The U.S. has fared rather well at #17/135.

Among the Spanish-speaking countries of the world, Spain is ranked #12/135; and in this hemisphere, Cuba at #20/135 fares best in the Americas, while Guatemala at #112/135 finds itself closer to the opposite end of the spectrum.

The rest of the countries have been rated as follows (in alphabetical order): Argentina, 28/135; Bolivia, 62/135; Chile, 46/135; Colombia, 80/135; Costa Rica, 25/135; Dominican Republic, 81/135; Ecuador, 45/135, El Salvador, 94/135; Honduras, 54/135; Mexico, 89/135; Nicaragua, 27/135, Panama, 40/135; Paraguay, 76/135; Peru, 73/135; Puerto Rico, 66/135; Uruguay, 58/135; and Venezuela, 63/135.

How do you explain such a wide range of gender gaps among the Spanish-speaking countries?

bpallsGender Gap
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  • This is an example of how the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries are not all the same. It is important to remember that Spanish is a popular languge spoken in many different countries and not just one homogeneus demographic.

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      • Thank you for your observations; it is always refreshing to read comments such as yours: a reward for careful, diligent work. Visit us often as we change topics periodically.
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      • I appreciate your observation, Seryjny! We are professional educators, now retired but still active in our desire to educate the public with scholarly articles of “quality” as you say.
        Thank you for your comment. bp

      • Interesting to see the differences.

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    • How right you are, Ms. Ball! Just look at the culture of the Spanish-speaking countries in my article and you’ll know why their gender gap is what is it. The same would be true if I were to present a similar picture of the countries of Europe, or another area of the world. As for speaking Spanish (Castellano, in Spain), until recently our government was using the term “Hispanic” to classify one’s race!!! To think that a Cuban, a Garifuna, a Mexican, a Tupi Guarani, an Argentinean and a person from an Andean country, all belong to one racial group! Sheer insanity!! But then again, what is nice about “government” is that it is anonymous…
      Thank you for your comment. bp

    • You are exactly right, Ms. Ball!
      Just about every country in Latin America (and not just the Spanish-speaking ones) has a culture that sets the tone for many cultural practices and how men and women interact in their societies:
      Europeans (and even here there are variables), Africans, Asians and indigenous populations have everything to do with these practices. It is broadly recognized that these countries will always be demographically heterogeneous, hence culturally diverse, hence few gender gap modifiers for a very long time to come…
      I appreciate your staying on task!
      Thank you,

  • Perhaps the wide range of gender gaps among the Spanish-speaking countries has more to do with institutional conditions such as laws, educational systems, and market conditions than it does with the language the country speaks.

    • Of course, it’s a matter of culture! Everything you site, and more, help shape each country’s culture and values. Even language, that seems to unite the 19 counties that use primarily Spanish to communicate with each other (hence “Hispanics,” having to do with Spain-Spanish), has many variations, brought about by indigenous influences–which abound.
      Thank you for staying on task, Laura!

  • I agree that we need to look at the countries individually and not just at what language they speak. Each one has cultural differences and the female may have different roles in that culture than the Scandinavian countries.

    • Thank you for staying on task!
      True, many if not all of these countries have cultures that differ from each other primarily because of population make up. Where you have a large influx of Europeans, you expect to find better relations between men and women–and you do; where you have more indigenous populations, the gender gap widens, since traditions have been in place for many centuries, long before Columbus came to this continent. Even the language they are supposed to speak, Spanish, as well as religion, have great variations from country to country because of the influence that indigenous populations continue to exert. The Scandinavian countries are an exception, if one were to glance at a Gender Gap map: it has been nurtured by sensitivity to and awareness of how both men and women are partners in working together to build their societies. Of course, it takes education and open mindedness to do that…
      Thank you for your comments.

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    • You are absolutely right, Ms. Barton! The first step in creating harmonious relations between us, no matter who we are and where we come from, is knowledge. This knowledge shapes our behavior toward others and allows for a constructive dialog that benefits all and excludes no one!

      If you know that I am Jewish, you won’t offer me pork when you invite me for dinner! you’ll insult me deep culture (faith); if I know that you are an Arab, I’ll be careful not to cross my legs at the ankle and thus show you the sole of my foot (an insult, since it shows that I consider you dirt!); if you arrive 1/2-1 hour late to my party, I need not be upset and embarrass you in front of others; I should accept that this is common in many cultures and be glad that you could come!

      I can go on and on about understanding and respecting the other person’s point of view! Our world would be a lot more harmonious!
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  • Thank you so much for sharing your passion for culture.
    I have learned more in the few class sessions that we had then I will ever learn in 300 PLC s or ever learned in college. I hope to be in more of your classes. I really enjoyed them.

    • It is hear-warming to read comments such as your, Ms. Hill because you validated the efforts of the teacher to impart knowledge for the benefit of his/her students. You simply reversed roles this time; and, I am sure, you’ll have a new awareness about Culture as you come in contact with students and their parents who hail from other countries. Bea will delight to read your opinion!
      Thank you for your comments!

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    • Thank you for your comments, Kavin! I am glad that this is your first experience with blogs. Our sire is not a typical one as we try to make people think and express their views on the subject. And, while few have done this, they have had an opportunity to tell us how they profited from the Culture lass they took. Any time a teacher learns something valuable and takes it to his or her classroom, it is good!
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  • Bea, I would like to say your ESOL Culture class was not only fun but quite an eye opener. I have always told others that we should not try to change someone who has been raised differently than ourselves. Your class has just solidified my convictions. I love learning new things; especially new things that I can implement in my classroom right away. Thank you so much for you time, your patients, and your knowledge!!!

    • I should have Bea respond to your comment, Ms. Albanese, but since is also involves me–when I came to the U.S. as an immigrant of 19 years–I’ll add a brief opinion.

      It would have been difficult (and still is) for someone to try to change my belief system, when I came here, but many did attempt anyway: at times, I found it humorous but more often than not it was embarrassing, even annoying. From your class on Culture, you will remember that the easiest part of our culture that may be changed is the surface one. So, I quickly learned to eat bread which, to me was like foam, and to enjoy hamburgers and steaks; in no time at all I wore clothing with a different “cut” and shoes that were a bit wider than what I was accustomed to back in Europe. But it proved useless to make me not cross myself after a prayer at the table or to prefer three-dimensional statues of religious figures (human-like) instead of their two-dimensional counterparts, icons (representations).

      We simply cannot change one’s deep culture; we can, however, understand it and accept it in others and thus create an atmosphere of mutual respect. This is accomplished by persons who become educated and are able to work with persons from other cultures but leave their deep culture alone. It need not be “foreigners” either; from where I sit, I can distinguish several cultural practices here in the U.S.: from the northeastern and the southern, to the mid western and the one on the left coast. I hasten to add that I am glad you gained a better perspective having attending Bea’s culture class. bp

  • Bea, I must say I truly enjoyed your class. I have learned so much in your ESOL class and it has genuinely helped me understand, appreciate and communicate with my ESOL students on a much more personal and higher level. As I continue to complete my ESOL training I hope to have you as my instructor again. Your knowledge and understanding is beyond measure. Thank you again for such an enlightening course.
    Cecilia Vanderhoef – HHS

    • I appreciate your comments to my wife, Ms. Vanderhoef, and–naturally–I agree with your observations.
      Anyone who has sat in one of Bea’s ESOL class eventually comes to the same objective conclusion about how valuable and right-on-target her instruction is!
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