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Economy and ambition propel careers of Brazilian women, study finds

Monday, December 19, 2011  
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Are Brazilian women more ambitious than their U.S. counterparts? A recent report by the Center for Work-Life Policy found at least 80 percent of college educated Brazilian women aspire to top-level positions, compared with 52 percent in the United States. Nearly 60 percent of Brazilian women consider themselves "very ambitious,” compared to 36 percent of American women.

Less than 30 percent of the women with a college degree earn more than their husbands in Brazil, compared with 39 percent of these women in the United States, according to the report.

Economic growth and a rising cost of living have pushed Brazilian women to aim high in their careers, Ripa Rashid, executive vice president of the Center for Work-Life Policy. While growth has slowed this year, unemployment is at record lows and some Brazilian cities are experiencing full employment. Gross domestic product growth in Brazil, the world’s second-largest emerging market after China, will be 3 percent this year after a 7.5 percent expansion in 2010, according to Banco Bradesco SA. Unemployment fell to 5.8 percent in October.

"Brazil’s economy has been doing really well, so there are opportunities for growth that are unparalleled and unprecedented,” Rashid told Bloomberg News.

"The study found that the biggest barriers women face in advancing their careers is the lack of mentors and the need to care for elderly parents. "In Brazil, they are much less likely to have senior-level relationships, which is critical to advancement,” Rashid said.

Women hold 29 percent of senior positions in privately held companies in Brazil and are chief executive officers of 11 percent of large companies, compared with 20 percent and 3 percent, respectively, in the United States, according to the study. Among privately held companies, 59 percent have women in their ownership structure, greater than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average of 32 percent.

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