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Women In The Labor Market In The City Of Manizales, Caldas, Colombia

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In Latin America, women face discrimination at all levels of employment and management. Some studies have concluded that Latin Americans, as compared to Europeans and North Americans, are more likely to put up with the fact that power is unequally distributed within companies. This creates an environment that encourages the acceptance of labor inequality between genders (Vergara, 2011). This research project attempts to understand women and their inclusion in the workplace, as well as the ways they are limited within the labor market. Understanding and characterizing the limiting factors of women and analyzing their behavior in the labor market can help to identify appropriate actions that will lead to greater equity for women.

The problem of the gender gap, which has been debated in many circles, is the result of cultural traditions and ideologies. Women have often not been allowed to develop the necessary skills to advance in life or to preserve their liberties and opportunities as people, and are not offered the same opportunities as men to take part in economic and political spheres (Vázques-Parra, 2016).

“The presence of socioeconomic and cultural factors that limit the competitive development of women has been well studied. Several of these limitations are related to the reproductive role of the female sex, the lack of access to educational preparation, and the lack of economic rights, among others” (Vázquez Parra, Arrendondo Trapero, & de la Garza, 2016, translated from Spanish). This leads to an understanding that, in general, is already accepted, but that has not been given adequate attention or analysis. As Charlo Molina and Núñez Torrado (2012) argue, it is society that gives value to both male and female roles—this has brought about a discriminatory socioeconomic position against women, just as it has brought power and respect to men.

The term diversity refers to the interaction of different individuals with different cultures, ages, genders, education levels, development, life experiences, abilities, talents, functional and organizational differences, etc. In other words, according to the European Institute for the Management of Diversity, “diversity is understood as profiles that differentiate people and have an impact on group behavior” (Abay Analistas Económicos y Sociales, 2012, translated from Spanish). “Organization is defined as the interaction of multiple actors and processes that respond to the pressures of the environment in which they operate, from which a high capacity for self-organization emerges and develops” (Lowendahl and Revang, cited by Torres and Mejía, 2006, pp. 125, translated from Spanish).


According to existing information in Colombia, the national government supports the participation of women from a normative framework through laws and policies established by different entities. For example, the National Public Policy on Gender Equality recognizes that: “Women, as social subjects, contribute to the development of the country in all arenas; however, there remain various forms of discrimination that affect and impede women’s exercise of rights and the expansion of their capacities” (Alta consejería Presidencia para la Equidad de la Mujer, 2012, translated from Spanish). Likewise, the “Principal Instruments and International and National Norms” are also stated (Programa Presidencial para la formulación de Acciones y Estrátegias para el Desarrollo Integral de los Pueblos Indígenas, 2013, translated from Spanish), which emphasizes the importance of achieving maximum participation of women in equal conditions as men by providing training and employment opportunities. Furthermore, it focuses on the elimination of traditional gender roles, with an emphasis on equal labor opportunities.

Nearly all of the above applies to a study done in Popayán, which concluded that the cost of working for women along with raising and caring for children, without recognition, limits effective establishment in the labor market. Personal and family barriers such as maternity, age, and marital status also have an effect.

Using direct precedents from studies done in Mexico, Spain, and Chile by the Monterrey Institute of Technology; the University of Sevilla; and Fuentes, Palma, and Montero, respectively, one can conclude that the difference in the economic participation of women is statistically significant, and that women receive a lower wage than men, despite having equal characteristics in terms of human capital.

Women’s participation in the labor market is only just beginning to improve significantly thanks to factors that positively influence organizational development: recent studies maintain that gender diversity and the educational level of employees are both positive influences in this area. Thus concluded a study from an administration journal in Spain, which reported important growth thanks the contributions of women in the workplace.


Of the total national population from the period of February-April of 2018, 50.7% were women and 49.3% were men. The population that was economically active was composed 57.1% by men and 42.9% by women. Men represented 58.5% of those employed, and women 41.5%. Of those unemployed, 44.4% were men and 55.6% were women (See Figure 1).



The national unemployment rate for men over the period from February-April of 2018 was 7.7%; from February-April of 2017 the rate was 7.3%. Overall labor force participation rates for men from February-April of 2018 was 74.3%, and employment rates were 68.5%. For the period of February-April 2017, these statistics were 74.4% and 69.0% respectively.

The sectors that employed the highest shares of men for the period February-April of 2018 were: Agriculture, livestock, hunting, foresting, and fishing (22.9%) and Businesses, hotels, and restaurants (22.6%). For the period of February-April of 2017, these sectors were 22.8% and 22.2% respectively. During the same period in 2018, the occupation with the highest participation of men was self-employed with 45.2%. For same period in 2017 this proportion was 44.8%.


At the national level, the unemployment rate for women for the period of February-April 2018 was 12.8%, accompanied by a labor force participation rate of 53.5% and an employment rate of 46.6%. From February-April of 2017, these numbers were 12.8%, 54.4%, and 47.4%, respectively. The sectors employing the highest proportion of women for February-April of 2018 were: Businesses, hotels, and restaurants (33.2%) and Community, social, and personal services (31.0%). For February-April 2017 these proportions were 34.0% and 30.5% respectively. The occupation with the greatest participation of women for the period February-April 2018 was self-employed with 40.9%. This rate was 40.1% in for the same period in 2017.


When considering educational levels, at the national level women require longer to find employment, with the exception of women with university and graduate school training, who require on average 2.4 weeks less than men with the same education.

In general, women take five months to secure employment (one month more than men). This is significant for women, as during that average of 30 days, men have already earned their first month’s pay.


In 2017, Caldas had an overall participation rate of 56.0%, an employment rate of 50.9%, and an unemployment rate of 9.2% (See Figure 2).

The objective underemployment rate for Caldas was 5.0%, and the subjective underemployment rate was 21.1% (See Figure 3).


The national employment rate for women with completed levels of higher education was 79.3%, 6.3 percentage points lower than the rate for men (85.6%). The gap between men and women tends to be lower among those with higher levels of education.

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Nationally, the unemployment rate for women with secondary education was 18.5%, which is 7.7 percentage points greater than men with the same educational level. Similar behavior was recorded across 13 regional areas (see Figure 8 and 9).

Hours worked

The national average for hours worked by men is greater than hours worked by women by 9 hours. Across the 13 areas, the difference is 8 hours (See Figure 10).


In the national total, women have an average workload of 67 hours, greater than that of men by 10 hours. However, disaggregating this by paid and unpaid hours, men have more paid work time than women. These variables show similar behavior across the country’s principal business cities and the 13 areas.

Demographics of Manizales

According to the figures published by the Center for Information and Statistics (Centro de Información y Estadística) for the year 2016, the population of Manizales is 397,466 inhabitants.

Of those, 111,290 (or 28%) are under 20 years of age, while 16% (63,595 people) are over age 60. This indicates that 56% of the population (222,581 people) are between ages 21 and 59.

Men make up 48% of the population, and women the remaining 52%—that is to say, 206,682 women and 190,784 men.

The range of working age women in Colombia

Calculations from recruitment firms indicate that the age in which women can most easily enter the Colombian labor market is between 25 and 45 years of age. “For women age 50, options are more limited—not because of their age, but because their profiles are more suited to management positions and the demand is greater in middle management,” says a report by Michael Page (translated from Spanish).

Business Survey in Manizales

The business survey in the city of Manizales began in 2004 as an initiative prompted and led by the Manizales City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce of Manizales for Caldas.

The first results provided by the census was the commercial characterization of the city and its 11,225 registered businesses.

The survey found that 9,232 business establishments, or 82%, belonged to individuals, while 18% (1,993 businesses) pertained to a legal entity, which is to say, a company.

Regarding the individual entities, it can be inferred that 53% are male (4,852 people), and 47% (4,350) are female (See Figure 12).


The findings of this study, as they relate to the economic participation of women, may be seen as an obstacle. However, it is also necessary to recall that these findings also serve to emphasize areas of opportunity. The inclusion of women in the job market is a key factor for competitiveness, and Manizales has been facing these challenges for many years.

The results of the descriptive analysis offer important points to consider: for example, in spite of the fact that there is a greater population of working-aged women in the city, men have greater rates of labor force participation. This is compounded by the average duration of unemployment, which is higher for women in the city, who are affected by this 1.1 months of extended unemployment. Unemployment factors are related to the search for an adequate schedule and commute distances that also allow for the completion of household tasks and responsibilities.

The theoretical review reveals that women have been segregated in similar ways internationally, nationally, and locally. In Manizales, although the government has been taking actions in favor of inclusion, the numbers have not increased proportionally.

While equal opportunity in access to employment has been increasing over the years Manizales, the process is long overdue, as gender exclusion in the 21st century is a well-known phenomenon. Women continue to dedicate more hours to unpaid domestic work and caring for relatives, which is time that, if spent in a formal job, could improve economic participation and contribute to gender equality.

We conclude, in preliminary terms, that businesses in the city of Manizales to not achieve the necessary inclusion established by law and policies to defend the rights of women and to close the gender gap.

It is therefore necessary to promote local commitment dedicated to gender equity in the economic sphere; thus, I insist that such research continue with continued analyses of these indicators until more equitable results are achieved.


  1. Abay Analistas Económicos y Sociales. (2012). Presencia de mujeres en puestos de responsabilidad y competitividad empresarial.
  2. Alta consejería Presidencia para la Equidad de la Mujer. (2012). Lineamientos de la Política Pública Nacional de Equidad de Género para las Mujeres. Colombia.
  3. Caldas, C. d. (2014). Censo empresarial Manizales 2014. . Manizales: Informe Técnico.
  4. Charlo Molina, M. J., & Núñez Torrado, M. (2012). La mujer directiva en la gran empresa española: perfil, competencias y estilos de dirección.
  5. Fuentes, J., Palma, A., & Montero, R. (2005). Discriminación Salarial por Género en Chile: Una mirada global. Chile.
  6. Programa Presidencial para la formulación de Acciones y Estrátegias para el Desarrollo Integral de los Pueblos Indígenas. (2013). Legislación y Pueblos Índigenas de Colombia. Colombia.
  7. Vázquez Parra, J., Arredondo Trapero, F., & de la Garza , J. (2016). Brecha de género en los países mienbros de la Alizanza del Pacífico. Estudios Gerenciales.
  8. Vázquez-Parra, J. A.-T. (2016). Brecha de género en los países miembro de la Alianza del Pacífico.
  9. Vergara, M. L.-B. (2011). Factores que influyen en la participación de la mujer en cargos directivos y órganos de gobierno de la empresa colombiana. Cuadernos de Administración.

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Women In The Labor Market In The City Of Manizales, Caldas, Colombia. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 9, 2023, from
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