PodCast EconomistA with Livia Gouvea: women in the labor market and female support networks

In this episode of Brazilian Women in Economics’s podcast, Paula Pereda and Laura Karpuska interviewed Livia Gouvea. She is a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in economics from PUC-Rio. Livia has worked at Opportunity at the World Bank, and she is now a specialist in the labor market at the Inter-American Development Bank.

Livia told us that she decided to follow an undergraduate degree in economics inspired by public policy that greatly impacted, as the Plano Real. She also liked history and mathematics. Although she did not have much support from her family on her career choice, Livia tells us that she received a full scholarship that supported her during the years in college. It was her advisor that encouraged her to pursue a master’s degree. After some time in the financial market, she decides to pursue a Ph.D. with the intent to reconnect herself with some of her topics of interest, especially the labor market, the field in which she is now a specialist at the IADB.

Livia explains some of her work and examples of projects at the IADB. She says that the bank seeks to support the design and implementation of projects aligned with a development agenda for Latin America. This happens through more operative activities, like support or technical cooperation with governments and participation in knowledge agendas. They seek diagnoses and solutions that are less specific to a single project. Among the projects supported by the IADB, Livia highlights a granting of a loan to the Brazilian government as a form of supporting the Bolsa Família program, the emergency aid, and a program for maintaining employment and income.

Also, Livia comments about the pandemic effects on the labor market that women especially felt. She points out that the pandemic crisis already hit a Brazilian labor market that was unequal and full of heterogeneities between men and women. She highlights that an economic recovery will need to go through the recovery of female employment. She argues that a low women participation in the labor market represents talents that are not being used. Moreover, Livia comments on home-office and women’s return to the labor market, on gender differences in contexts and incentives related to work, as well as the importance of support networks.

To conclude, Livia leaves us with a special message about the importance of building female support networks. She comments about how she had begun to understand better and confront many of her discomforts and characteristics when she realized that they were shared by many other of her colleagues.