Knowledge Center

Women in the Workforce: Mexico


Mexico Is the Most Populated Spanish-Speaking Country1

Mexico’s total population is 124,574,795, which makes it the 11th most populous country in the world, following China, India, and the United States.2

  • Mexico is the second most populous country in Latin America following Brazil.3

Today, Mexico's population skews young: the median age is 28 years old, with over 65% of the population between 15 and 64 years old.4

  • 27.3% of the population was under the age of 15 years old in 2016.5

Fewer Mexicans are migrating to the United States. From 2009 to 2014, the number of Mexicans returning to Mexico from the United States (one million) surpassed the number of Mexicans migrating to the United States from Mexico (870,000).6

Mexico's Population Is Aging7

Mexico’s fertility rate is just above replacement level,8 at 2.3 births per woman.9

  • Almost 20% of the population is expected to be elderly (aged 65 and over) by 2050, compared to just 6.9% of the population today.10


Education Is a Very Important Factor Influencing Mobility in Mexico11

57% of Mexico's 15–19-year-olds were enrolled in schools (the lowest recorded percentage among OECD nations) in 2015,12 despite the country’s having the largest population of this age group in its history.13

Only 17%14 of 25–64-year-olds earned a tertiary (post-secondary) education degree in 2016.15

  • Less than one-quarter (22%) of 25–34-year-olds earned tertiary degrees.16

  • In 2014, 30% of women and 29.9% of men were enrolled in tertiary education within five years of completing secondary school.17

Among Mexico’s tertiary education students, women accounted for almost a third (32%) of those entering STEM fields in 2015, a proportion that is above the average (27%) across OECD nations.18

In 2015, women graduates in tertiary education programs included:19

  • More than a quarter (28.3%) in engineering, manufacturing, and construction.
  • Over half (52.6%) in the natural sciences, mathematics, and statistics.
  • Over half (55.9%) in business, administration, and law.

Labor Force

Women’s Participation in the Labor Force Lags Behind Men’s20

In 2016, 62.2% of the population aged 15 years and older participated in the labor force.21

  • 45.5% of women were in the labor force compared to 79.5% of men.22
  • In 2020, women are projected to be 37.2% of the total labor force (23,282,000).23

Women are more likely than men to work in Mexico’s informal sector. More than half (55.5%) of women in non-agricultural occupations hold informal jobs, compared to 49.1% of men.24


Women Have a Low Participation Rate in Leadership Roles25

In 2015, women held only 5.7% of corporate board seats in Mexico.26

14.6% of firms have women in top management roles.27

  • Of high potentials surveyed, women are more likely to work in a global firm, whereas men are more likely to work in a non-global firm.28
  • Women held nearly a quarter (24%) of senior management positions in 2017.29
    • The percentages of businesses in Mexico with no women in senior management decreased from 52% in 2016 to 38% in 2017.30

Women earn on average 49% less than men for doing similar work.31

Quotas and Laws Are Helping Women Close the Gender Gap in Politics32

Over a third of all positions in Mexico’s lower house parliament (42.6%) and Senate (36.7%) are held by women, placing it 7th out of 193 countries.33

  • No woman has ever been elected to the Presidency of Mexico.34

Additional Resources

Anna Beninger, Today’s Mexican High Potentials at Work (Catalyst, 2014).

Catalyst, First Step: Mexico Overview (2014).

Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in the Workforce: Latin America and the Caribbean.

Alixandra Pollack, Dnika J. Travis, and Erica L. Lizano, Corporate Landscape in Mexico: Understanding Approaches to Talent Management and Women’s Inclusion (Catalyst, 2014).

"Closing Mexico's Gender Gap." YouTube video, 2:06, posted by World Economic Forum, April 17, 2012. 

Manuela Artigas, Heloisa Callegaro, and Maria Novales-Flamarique, "Why Top Management Eludes Women in Latin America: McKinsey Global Survey Results" (McKinsey&Company, 2013).


How to cite this product: Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in the Workforce: Mexico (October 27, 2017).