Note from BW of Brazil: The economic crisis that has been strangling Brazil for the past few years has been challenging for the entire population, but when you add race and gender to the mix, the results can be devastating. Nowadays, Afro-Brazilian women are no longer satisfied holding down jobs that the society expects them to occupy such as maids or cleaning women. No, no, today we see a growing number of black women who aspire and are becoming dentists, doctors, lawyers, judges and even CEOs of top companies. But even in this scenario, the crisis is making it difficult for even highly-qualified black women to find employment. How difficult? Consider the experience of one black woman who is a lawyer, is pursuing two post-grad degrees and has never gone without employment since the age of 16. She is also a member of a large group of successful black Brazilian women.
In pursuing two post-grad degrees, black lawyer has sent out 67 resumes in the year
She declined a salary proposal she considered below that practiced in the market
By Juca Guimarães
Mayara did 20 interviews in 2017
Mayara Silva is 26 years old, has worked since the age of 16, has been a lawyer for two years, and is finishing her first postgraduate course and has already started the second one. Even with the experience, the young lawyer is struggling to get back into the job market.
Unemployment in Brazil affects pretos e pardos (blacks and browns) more than brancos (whites). Of the 13 million unemployed, 8.3 million belong to the group – 63.7% of the total, or two out of three workers without a job. The data is part of the Pnad (National Survey by Sample of Households) Contínua Trimestral (Continuous Quarterly), released Friday (17) by IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics).
Throughout 2017, when unemployment levels hit a record, Mayara sent 67 resumes and was invited to 20 interviews. She received only one job offer.
“They called me last week to pay me R$1,000 (USD$308). I thought it was absurd and I didn’t go.
According to the IBGE survey, the average remuneration of pretos and pardos is 44.4% lower than that of brancos. In Mayara’s assessment, the proposal of $ 1,000 per month is well below the market average for the same function, which, according to her, is around R$ 6,000.
The survey published today shows that, in the first quarter of 2017, unemployment peaked, the general unemployment rate was 13.7%, being 10.9% for brancos and 16.2% for pretos and pardos.
In the third quarter of this year, the group’s rate fell to 14.6%, compared to 12.4% of the general population and 9.9% of whites (see chart below).
“I started working at 16, and this year is the first year that I’ve gone without paid work,” says Mayara.
Since college, she has worked in the public defender’s office and the Secretariat of Legal Affairs of the City Hall. The contract ended last February.
While seeking a new job with a formal contract, the lawyer is finishing a postgraduate degree in Legislative Law and Democracy and starting another in Public Management.
In 2005, a Human Resources consulting firm specializing in racial diversity was created in São Paulo, EmpregueAfro, which prepares professionals for the selection process in companies.
“We study the main impacts of the black population on the economy, consumption and social disparities. Companies are first sensitized as social responsibility, then understand that it is an important strategy for business,” says communication director Rodrigo Fernandes.
He says that in the beginning few companies cared about the subject, but that, over 12 years, “everyone has understood that, besides priority, it happens to really be a matter of organizational survival.”
“As the black population got to know us more and more, they would send their resumes. Today we have about 3,000 resumes in our database.”
At the head of a network of 4,800 black women
Mayara Silva participates in the group Negras Empoderadas (empowered black women), on Facebook: ‘it is very common for women to participate after ‘discovering’ they are black
By Edison Veiga and Rodrigo Burgarelli
As a teenager, lawyer Mayara Silva de Souza, 24, found shampoo labels to be strange. “I believed my hair was normal, so why could not I use the products whose labels had the words ‘cabelos normais’ (normal hair)? Who was it that defined that normal is the straight?”, she says.
Concerns of this type always populated her way of being. Until in 2015 she was invited to participate in a dinner with 20 other black women in the house of the then Consulate of France in Brazil, Alexandra Baldeh Loras – who is also black. There, the idea of creating a network to connect active black women protagonists of their roles appeared. “We are concerned that black women are still a majority in the prison system and minority in the university environment, for example,” she says.
Today, the Negras Empoderadas group brings together 4,800 participants on Facebook. Periodically there are also in person meetings – which bring together, on average, 150 people. “It is very common for women to come after ‘discoverng’ they are negras (black)’. Because of their own dominant discourse in society, they grow up feeling they are brancas (white), growing up believing they are white,” she says. “It’s very exciting, and at the same time difficult, to have to deal with this type of situation.”