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Female Economists Are Minority at Brazil's Top Universities

07/20/2015 - 09h45

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ERICA FRAGA
FROM SÃO PAULO

Female economists are still a minority in the top ranks of Brazil's academic world, where the publishing of research in the world's most important journals is a condition to grow in the career.

Cristine Xavier Pinto, 37, is the only woman among the 21 scholars who comprise the first team of the School of Economics of FGV-SP. The same is true for Cecília Machado, 34, who is the only woman among the 23 professors of EPGE at FGV in Rio de Janeiro.

There are departments of top schools of economy, such as PUC-Rio, who don't have even one woman among their main professors.

Young Brazilian economists say the difference also exists is some other countries. But others, like the U.S., have taken action to reduce the hiatus.

The American Economic Association (AEA), an organization dedicated to support discussion and research on economics, has a committee to follow the participation of women in the area. Every year it publishes the increase in the number of women among students and professors of economics.

The latest report released in 2014 showed that the number of women studying at doctoral level amounted to 33% of the total, but only 12% of the full professors with a PhD in economics.

Although those numbers are rising in the U.S. - in 1997, only 6.5% of the full professors were women - the tendency towards a reduction of the presence of women throughout the career continues.

"The number of women gradually reduces in the academic career as they move up," says Fernanda Estevan, of USP.

USP's department of economics has the highest proportion of women in comparison with other schools which focus on academic research in Brazil, but the number is still small.

Estevan says that there weren't any women on the board of professors who interviewed her when she applied to become a professor.

REASONS

The job's rhythm is intense which makes it hard to take time off to have children and that is seen as a reason for the small number of women.

After they receive their PhDs, their careers usually demand exclusive dedication.

That is followed by an intense period of three or four years to get articles published in top journals, such as "Econometrica", "American Economic Review" and "Journal of Political Economy."

The few Brazilian women who have achieved a high position in the academic world are part of a generation which expanded the focus of research in the economic area towards education, health and gender issues in the labor market.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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