Is there a glass ceiling for women when exercising the economy?

Elinor Ostrom and Esther Duflo are the only women who have won the Nobel Prize in Economics in its 51 editions, a fact that shows the gender imbalance in the economy and leaves open the questions of whether women have a problem with the economy or if the economy has a problem with women.

Faced with the first question, in Colombia the number of women graduating from Economics as an undergraduate career has increased. In fact, according to figures from the Ministry of Education, between 2010 and 2019 26,623 economists graduated, of which 13,403 were women, that is, 50.3% of the total.

Despite the fact that in Colombia more women graduate from this social science, the panorama is different if the number of senior positions they have held in public entities that have to do with the career, such as in the Ministry, is reviewed. Treasury, the Bank of the Republic, the National Planning Department (DNP) or the Dane.

For example, since its foundation in 1958, the DNP has had 37 directors, of which only six have been women, that is, 16% of the total. Among them, they have been in charge María Mercedes Cuéllar (1986 and 1989), Cecilia López (1997-1998), Carolina Renteria (2006-2009) Tatyana Orozco (2013-2014), Gloria Alonso (2018-2019) and the director current, Alejandra Botero.

A similar scenario occurs in the Banco de la República, only 13% of all the co-directors of the Board of Directors have been women: María Mercedes Cuéllar (1991-1996), Carolina Soto (2018-2021), Ana Fernanda Maiguascha (2013-2021 ) and the current co-director, Bibiana taboada. Highlighting that there has not been any woman who occupies the highest position in the entity, that of general manager.

While at Dane only two women have been directors since 1952: María Luisa Chiappe (1994-1996) and María Eulalia Arteta (2000-2002); and there has never been a finance minister.

“Of course there is a glass ceiling for women. There have been very few women in the Dane, but what has never been is a Minister of Finance, nor a general manager of the Banco de la República ”, noted Cecilia López on this subject, who was director of the DNP and is currently the president of the Center for Social and Economic Research (CiSoe).

And he added that “in a debate we had a year ago, at the Universidad de los Andes, they were saying that there was this problem, that many women were entering the race, but they assured that they could not reach the maximum positions in economics. So there is a glass ceiling. The economy has no gender, but one does feel, and I say this from personal experience, that it is considered as if it were a profession of men ”.

For Lilia Sánchez, former president of the Colombian Society of Economists (SCE), and the only woman who has held that position, there is still machismo in the sector. “Machismo has not gone away, that of parents, co-workers and bosses. In order to survive in such an environment one must be twice as intelligent and twice as hardworking as a man. If that is not discrimination, then what is it called? ”Said Sánchez.

While the current director of the DNP, Alejandra Botero, affirmed that “it is evident that there is still a gender gap in the country. Women do not have equal conditions in the labor market and it is evident even in executive or managerial positions. We need a social and cultural change because there is no sector that women cannot lead ”.

According to the experts, one of the causes of this problem is how women have been related to care work throughout history. In that sense, they point out that household chores should be outsourced, that is, that the market covers that demand.

“Since Adam Smith, who believed and said 300 years ago that care should not be remunerated because it was a feeling, a proof of generosity, economists, for the most part, have mounted this discourse to resolve that this is the main activity Women’s. As long as this is not recognized as a new productive sector and women continue to appear before the world as caregivers, whatever they do on the outside, in economics or in another career, will be considered secondary, ”said López.

Along the same lines, Botero assured that “it is key to build a support network so that women can achieve a balance between family and professional responsibilities. For this reason, I want to mention the National Care Policy, whose main purpose is to promote a new social organization of care in the country “

However, María Mercedes Cuéllar, former director of the DNP and former co-director of the Bank of the Republic, assured that this is an issue in which progress has been made, since the number of women who enroll in economics faculties has increased.

“The country has been evolving slowly over the years, for example, compared to when I graduated, there were really very few women who graduated from Economics. Every day there are more and in different positions ”, said Cuéllar.

The contribution of women to managerial positions

Regarding the contributions of women to senior positions, María Mercedes Cuéllar highlighted that women give a different perspective to issues: “women are going to start to make changes in management, because, for whatever reasons they want They have different needs from men ”.

In the same direction, the director of the DNP, Alejandra Botero, highlighted the role of women in the formation of inclusive teams. “Companies with gender diversity are 15% more likely to have an economic profitability higher than the corresponding national average for the sector,” said Botero.

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Is there a glass ceiling for women when exercising the economy?