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Caribbean's different gender gap: women rise, men stagnate

Published:Friday | February 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Ravn Rae sits behind the counter of her smoking supplies store, Mez, located in a hotel complex in Kingston, Jamaica.

JAMAICA, Kingston (AP):

When the young woman was preparing to open a business in Jamaica selling pipes, vaporisers and other smoking paraphernalia, some acquaintances suggested she would have difficulty succeeding in a niche trade dominated by men.

Now, about a year and a half after its launch at a hotel complex in Jamaica's capital, Ravn Rae's smoking supplies store is growing and she's proving doubters wrong in a Caribbean country where women have made such big advances in professions once dominated by men that a new UN study says it has the world's highest proportion of female bosses.

"Women are the ones who are the main breadwinners. We push harder to earn," says Rae at her smoke shop, which she hopes to soon expand into a medical marijuana dispensary if lawmakers pass a decriminalisation bill and allow a regulated cannabis industry. For now, she manages one saleswoman.

According to data analysed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), nearly 60 per cent of managers in Jamaica are women, including those who work for large companies and those, like Rae, who own their own businesses. That's the globe's highest percentage and way ahead of developed countries. Colombia, at 53 per cent, and St Lucia, at 52 per cent, are the only other nations in the world where women are more likely than men to be the boss, according to the ILO's ranking of 108 countries. The highest-ranking First-World nation is the United States, with almost 43 per cent, and the lowest is Japan, at 11 per cent.