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Latin America: Few Female CEOs

Only nine female CEOs among
Latin America’s top 500 companies.




Only a dismal 1.8 percent of Latin American companies are run by women, according to a Latin Business Chronicle analysis of the Latin 500 ranking of the region’s largest companies.  Only nine of them had female CEOs.


While that’s a dismally low figure, it’s similar to the U.S. and European rates. Only 12 of the Fortune 500 companies are women, while only nine women lead Financial Times 500 companies.


However, compared with Canada, the Latin American results are clearly behind. There, 28 of the country’s top 500 companies have female CEOs, according to the Financial Post.


“It remains a closed club with the much discussed glass ceiling,” says Susan Segal, President and CEO of the Council of the Americas, which includes major corporations that do business in Latin America.


The Latin Business Chronicle research comes as Petrobras, Latin America’s largest company, recently appointed its first female CEO, Maria das Gracas Foster.


“Existing CEOs and board of directors in the region need corporate role models with women CEO’s, which is why the appointment of Gracas Foster at Petrobras is so important in promoting gender parity at the top,” Segal says. “To foment broad based change in multiple companies there will need to be real pressure applied and a realization of what seems self evident, at least, to me, why the decision is good for the company.”


Apart from Gracas Foster, Brazil accounts for six of the other eight female CEOs on the Latin 500 list. They include Dilma Pena of Sao Paulo sanitation company Sabesp; Carmem Campos Pereira of utility Rede Energia; Luiza Helena Trajano from retailer Magazine Luiza; Anna Christina Ramos from e-commerce giant B2W Varejo and Andrea Cunha from supermarket chain Prezunic as well as the Brazil country manager of General Motors, Grace Lieblein. The other two female CEOs include GM Argentina head Isela Costantini and Ivonne Monteagudo, the head of Sam’s Club in Mexico.


To be sure, the ranks of non-CEO female executives is larger, with companies like Colombian oil giant Ecopetrol boasting a female CFO and Mexican retail giant Walmex including a female CIOThe 77 companies that have female executives in upper management, account for 15.4 percent of the Latin 500.  (To see a list of leading female executives at more than 70 of the Latin 500 companies, click here).

Latin America ranks among the worst countries worldwide when it comes to wage equality, according to the World Economic Forum. 17 of 18 nations in Latin America ranked among the bottom 41 nations in a survey of 131 countries. Costa Rica had the lowest wage gap, while Chile had the highest, according to The Global Gender Gap Report 2011.


A woman in Costa Rica typically makes 64 percent of what her male counterpart earns. That compares with 77 percent in Denmark and even higher rates in several African countries. In Chile, the ratio is 50 percent.

© Copyright Latin Business Chronicle






Latin 500: The Female CEOs


Latin 500

Company, Country

CEO Name


Petrobras, Brazil

Maria das Graças Silva Foster


General Motors, Brazil

Grace Lieblein


Sam's Club, Mexico

Ivonne Monteagudo


Sabesp, Brazil

Dilma Pena


Rede Energia, Brazil

Carmem Campos Pereira


Magazine Luiza, Brazil

Luiza Helena Trajano Inácio Rodrigues


B2W Varejo, Brazil

Anna Christina Ramos Saicali


Prezunic Sup., Brazil

Andréa Cunha


General Motors, Argentina

Isela Costantini








Total Female CEO's



Total Companies



% of total



Source: Latin Business Chronicle.

Analysis of Latin 500 as of March 5, 2012.

Copyright Latin Business Chronicle 

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