Social inequality happens when people are treated differently than others because of their social or physical characteristics. There are many causes of social inequality, like one’s religion, race, sexual orientation and gender, which can lead to various social imbalances. The situation where men receive higher income than women is called the wage gap, which is a social inequality that is rooted in patriarchal society. This essay will discuss the nature of the wage gap in Brazil, its historical and modern context and what can be done to change it.
The wage gap is the difference between the salaries of women and men who have the same or similar qualifications. According to public information from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE)1, a government agency, women have a higher level of school education than men, such as high school and college education. Despite the fact that the Brazilian population has about 2% more women than men, the values of the educational divergence are still very significant. For high school this difference is about 3%, but for college it is higher, around 10%. Some positions were imposed for women to occupy without basis, such as maids, nurses and teachers, and a large part of the female population in Brazil occupies traditional positions for women, like the ones mentioned above. At these jobs they usually have a heavier workload, and still receive less than men. In general the wage gap in this case is about 25%.
Brazil was colonized by Portugal at the end of the XV century, and it remained a colony until the XIX century. During this period the economy was based on exporting natural resources to the crown of Portugal, such as sugar and coffee. At that time society was based on sugar commerce, and women couldn’t leave the plantation without being accompanied by their husband or their eldest son. Women gained the right to vote only in 1932, but in 1937 a dictatorship started that was imposed by the same man who gave them the right to vote, so women couldn’t actually use their right. During the time of WWII women started to work to help the financial needs at home, but in 1964 a second dictatorship began and women could still work, but when they acted out against the government they were severely tortured, one example of this was Dilma Rousseff, who would later become the first woman president of Brazil. After the end of the military dictatorship women’s rights started to grow, but because of the history of a patriarchal society social inequality still exist for women.
Article 461 of the Consolidated Brazilian Labor Laws (CLT in Portuguese)2, guarantees that workers who occupy the same positions at the same company must receive equal salaries, despite their gender, ethnicity or age. The judicial branch of government should ensure that these laws are being properly applied, and they could do this by regularly auditing companies. Also a law should be made that guarantees that children learn the role of women in history at school, by adding these courses to the official school curriculum. Additionally, the entertainment industry must steer away from portraying women in traditional positions, such as nurses and maids, by showing men occupying these positions in movies and TV shows.
For further solutions governments should create gender equality tax laws and tax breaks. These could work like the following example. If a company has less than 45% of their workforce as women, it would pay higher taxes, and if it has more than 45% their taxes would be reduced. Finally, every country that is a member of the United Nations (UN) should have a committee comprised of women who are in charge of promoting women’s rights in their own country and they would be in charge of choosing one of their own members to participate at an international committee that has the same job as the other one, but with international impact. In conclusion, all of the arguments that have been shown regarding social inequality, such as the wage gap and patriarchal society, must be combated considering that they have a large negative impact on society.