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  • Writer's pictureThaís Gaban Passalacqua

Women in Foreign Trade Statistics

March is such a representative month for women, in which we celebrate International Women's Day. But do women really have something to celebrate? Or do they still have a lot to fight for and conquer? And how is the role of women in Foreign Trade? What are the statistics of women in Foreign Trade?

All this is what we will see in this text.

Women's Protagonism in Foreign Trade

The representation of women in the labor market, specifically when it comes to Foreign Trade, is fortunately advancing. Not yet "by leaps and bounds" as one would like, there is still a long way to go, but the fact is that there are more and more women conquering spaces that were previously mostly occupied by men.

It is noticeable that nowadays women are much more active and female representation is absolutely relevant. However, there are few women who make it to the "top", that is, who manage to reach leadership positions.

Many women continue to work in operational positions in Foreign Trade, because unfortunately they are faced with the "gender barrier" in the midst of so much progress.

Even though men and women have the same level of education, the same professional training, the same resourcefulness, the same position, it is the men who continue to receive higher salaries than the women.

The market itself must be aware of the urgent need to value women in the workplace and in the corporate world, giving them the same opportunities for professional growth as men.

Women in Foreign Trade Statistics

Specific research and statistical studies on women in Foreign Trade are not so frequent, however, there is a survey conducted by the Women in Foreign Trade Hub on the Profile of the Foreign Trade Professional.

We will see below the results of its 1st edition, considering the socioeconomic profile, gender, income, education, and area of activity. The survey covered, in addition to the environment in which the professional works, their challenges and opportunities. The Women in Foreign Trade Hub also released the Map of Customs Agent, which will be shown below.

Foreign Trade Professional Profile Research

The research was conducted in the period from October/2018 to February/2019, 121 participants were interviewed, distributed in most Brazilian states, men and women working in various areas of Foreign Trade, including entrepreneurs, partners and freelancers (25%), in addition to workers from the private sector.

Thus, through the results of this research it was possible to notice that:

  • Among the interviewed participants, 58% were female and 41% were male;

  • Both genders were between 31 and 45 years old and had a high level of education;

  • 54% of the women have a graduate level of education, compared to 46% of the men;

  • 30% of women hold management positions, while men total 32%;

  • 50% of the women occupy analyst positions, and the men 24%;

  • 13% of women are entrepreneurs, and men 42%;

  • For salary gains of up to R$ 5,000, women represented 57% of the professionals, and men 36%;

  • However, for salaries between R$5,001.00 and R$10,000.00, men represented 42% and women 30%.

Customs Agent Map

The Map of Customs agents is a compilation of information handled by the Women in Foreign Trade Hub, with the Brazilian Federal Revenue Service (RFB) as a source.

In this Map it was identified that:

  • In the period from January to December 2019, Brazilian exports and imports totaled 4,141,157 declarations of Foreign Trade operations;

  • According to a Datafolha survey, in Brazil approximately 97% of Foreign Trade operations are carried out through the Customs Agent;

  • There is a total of 10,793 Customs agents distributed in the 27 states of Brazil;

  • Among these professionals, 73% are male customs agents and 27% are female customs agents;

  • The largest number of customs agents is concentrated in the state of São Paulo, with 4,497 professionals, according to the active registry of the RFB; and

  • An interesting fact: Mato Grosso is the only state that contains the highest number of women agents, with 64%.

Faced with these numbers, it is very clear that there is really a long way to go: there is a lack of female representation in leadership positions in Foreign Trade, a professional level which is still dominated by men.

Those who work in Foreign Trade know that few women are invited to lead and/or participate in debate tables or panels, and that the male predominance is still very strong, even though women are as competent and technically skilled as men.

No matter the gender, the professional capacity is the same as long as the same work opportunities are promoted for both men and women. After all, it is not the gender that will define who is more or less competent to assume a management position.

What attitude can be taken by women for a greater female protagonism?

First of all, for the female protagonism to increase, women working in Foreign Trade must be willing to increasingly improve their Hard Skills and Soft Skills.

The fight for a better scenario of opportunities is indispensable, but women also need to be guaranteed a good professional qualification, concerned mainly with being always updated with the demands that the Comex market requires.

The woman is challenged all the time and demand more and more challenges from herself, and this in itself makes them be in constant movement, always on the alert. And this action is really necessary.

Besides professional training, qualification, and constant updating, it is necessary that the woman, when facing the cultural differences between the most varied countries, does not get scared and does not lose faith in herself, since these differences are often striking.

There is still a lot of prejudice against women in the labor market, because there are countries whose religion, culture, and customs do not accept doing business with women. This can never be a reason for a woman to give up her skills, competencies, and, especially, her career.

To obtain a greater female protagonism in the Foreign Trade area, there is nothing better than for women to unite for the greater good. In other words, they need and should be part of a support network, such as Mulheres no Comex, Amecomex, and many others.

Examples of female protagonism

Every woman can and needs to be inspired by women who are examples of leadership and faithfully portray female protagonism.

By being inspired by a female trajectory, the woman can see with total clarity that it is possible for her too, all she has to do is trust herself and move forward with optimism and professionalism.

A very recent case of significant and totally inspiring female protagonism was the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to the post of Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

What could be a more inspiring example than this: the first woman and the first African to head the WTO, a post that has always been held by men?

She, a Nigerian woman, was for 25 years Director of Operations at the World Bank and the first woman in charge of Nigeria's Ministry of Finance.

Examples like this need to be applauded, exalted and followed. A real example that nothing, as well as no one, has the strength and power to stop a woman when she has total conviction of her objectives, her decisions, and her capacity.

Conquering management positions and leading spaces that were previously dominated by men is not an easy task. However, all women are capable and determined enough to get wherever they want to go.

SC Vitola was founded by a woman who works in Foreign Trade

SC Vitola is a Foreign Trade services company focused on health products and was founded by a woman who works in Foreign Trade.

Keila, the founder of SC Vitola, runs a company that specializes in health products, a very sensitive and discerning sector, whose motto is to Connect people and health products around the world!


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