A Woman's Place

March 23, 2017

On March 8, 2017 most of the world celebrated International Women’s day. And while this celebration has seldom existed without controversy, this year the internet exploded as social media watched and compared two very distinct speeches from world leaders.[1]

In his speech, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau highlighted belonging to a different century. Brazilian president, Michel Temer resurrected the notion of the importance of women’s role in the home. I wouldn’t disagree with Mr. Temer’s notion that keeping a home clean and taking care of children is a lot of work.  However, women’s roles have not been limited to housework and childcare in recent years, or ever, for that matter. Nor do all women necessarily even have anything to do with these tasks to begin with; none of these tasks need be exclusively performed by woman.  Just when the speech didn’t seem to have the potential to get worse, Mr. Temer made a connection between women’s economic participation and how well she is acquainted with the flow of the market in goods distributed to supermarkets.  

Turning the page to a text better suited to the century in which we live, Trudeau delivered a speech that was the exact opposite of the Brazilian president’s. Mr. Trudeau not only acknowledged the many advances in the quest for equal treatment of the genders, but also reminded the world that much work is still to be done; and to that point, Temer’s speech is illustrative.

But Temer is the president of a nation that is a leader in one area of gender equality, according to the Elsevir Foundation. In 2013, the Foundation reported that, “the number of women in science, technology and innovation fields [was] alarmingly low in the world’s leading economies.”[2] But according to Forbes magazine’s report on a more recent study by the Foundation (Gender in the Global Research Landscape), Brazil is now a leader in gender equality in science as compared to the United States, the European Union and other Latin American countries.[3]  According to the study, Brazilian women now “publish nearly half of the country’s scientific scholarly articles, approaching gender parity in one of the fields that has historically left women behind.[4]


Brazilian women do not get enough positive coverage in the media, and this study comes as a breath of fresh air.  Still, and as Trudeau pointed out, there is much work to do. Despite the optimism brought by this study, a Brazilian woman’s hour of labor is still worth one fourth less than that of a man.[5] The study also revealed that despite the overwhelming number of publications, women’s research is still cited less than similar research conducted by their male counterparts.


Nonetheless, and despite Mr. Temer’s outdated perspective, the home will have to do without a woman knowing the supermarket’s change in prices, because she might be busy with bigger world problems such as human genomics and anomalies in water diffusion. After all, a woman's place is wherever she wants. 



[1] See, http://cartacampinas.com.br/2017/03/que-abismo-veja-o-discurso-de-michel...

[2] Brazilian women lead in science, technology and innovation, study shows. (2013, March 26). Retrieved March 12, 2017, from https://www.elsevierfoundation.org/brazilian-women-lead-in-science-techn...

[3] Sims, S. (2017, March 10). Surprising New Study: Brazil Now A Global Leader In Gender Equality In Science. Retrieved March 12, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/shannonsims/2017/03/08/surprising-new-study...

[4] Supra.

[5] Women at Work, Good for them and the Brazilian Economy. (2013). Retrieved March 12, 2017, from http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/02/22/Brazil-why-promoting...

About Author(s)

marisapr's picture
Marisa is a third-year law student at the University of Pittsburgh. She is pursuing certificates in Health Law and in Latin American Studies. She is interested in gender and race issues and how they affect immigration and immigrant communities. She also does research in public health issues. She has been contributing with articles for Panoramas since 2015.