People in Costa Rica have equal access to education, but one gender has learned to take better advantage of this civil right.

One of the goals behind Costa Rica’s new country branding campaign is to showcase the high level of education of her people insofar as Latin America is concerned. Costa Rica has a significant edge when it comes to funding public education; the abolishment of her armed forces has freed up budget funding that would normally be allocated to military pursuits.

Quality of education at the public universities and technical colleges in Costa Rica has increased along with tuition costs and offerings by private universities, and it is clear that women are more attuned to these opportunities. According to numbers recently crunched by business weekly El Financiero, women in Costa Rica have attained far more years of education than their male counterparts in the five major salary groups.

For the record, women already outnumber men in Costa Rica.

The data used by Alejandro Fernandez Sanabria of El Financiero was gleaned from the 2009 National Household Survey conducted by the National Institute of Census and Statistics (Spanish initials: INEC). The Costa Rica Star has looked at other, more recent sources of information for the findings below.

  • In the first salary group, which is made up of workers in Costa Rica who contribute about $100 per month to their households, women had nearly seven years of basic education while men had between five and six. Needless to say, more than one person is a breadwinner in this group.
  • The second, third and fourth salary groups make up the lower to upper middle classes of Costa Rica, and it is in this last group that women’s educational attainments really stand out: The majority finished secondary education, either traditional or vocational, and many of these women eventually enrolled in universities and technical colleges.
  • When we get to the fifth salary group, those making 900,000 colones per month (about $1,800) and above, far more women have obtained bachelor’s degrees and technical diplomas than men.

The higher education levels of Ticas versus Ticos do not automatically translate into higher wages. Income discrimination in Costa Rica was very much a reality in 2009, but things seem to be turning around for whip-smart Ticas and their sisters across Central America. According to a late 2011 report by business magazine Summa, a World Bank research study that year determined that women in Central America earned three percent more than male workers.

Labor participation by women in Costa Rica is the highest in Central America, and their contribution to income statistics is significant. Ticas are beginning to crash through glass ceilings and are starting to claim high salaries normally reserved for male fat cats, and this is mostly observed in the government sector. These high-income earning Ticas help to lift salary statistics for women in Central America, but there are still substantial levels of income inequality in Costa Rica.

Although women in Costa Rica are decidedly better educated than men, quite a few have a hard time finding high-paying jobs. Reports by INEC in 2013 have revealed that 23 percent of female employees in Costa Rica earn less than the promulgated minimum wage for their occupational fields.

One of the most intriguing labor  statistics is that many women with higher education in Costa Rica are actually opting to stay home and take care of their households; meanwhile, more women with lower education are forced to abandon their housewife status and become low-income members of the national workforce.

Article by Costa Rica Star

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