Amy Osborne


Costa Rica is regarded as the “top democracy” in Latin America, exceeding basic developmental standards in most categories. The nation’s achievement is evidenced by women’s strong enrollment and retention rates within the nation’s education system. However, Costa Rica’s overwhelming gender disparity in the labor force reveals significant developmental deficiencies and contradicts fundamental democratic ideals. The pervasion of an “electric fence” mentality stunts women’s socio-economic engagement by restraining them to traditionally prescribed gender roles. To better understand women’s economic detachment, special attention must be paid to those institutional practices that perpetuate cultural norms and discriminatory tendencies. Costa Rica’s education system has a historic proclivity toward social conditioning, having undergone substantial reform to embed democratic allegiance into its national discourse. Socialized norms, imbedded in the education system, have discouraged women’s economic aspirations and fostered gender disparity. The following essay integrates observational fieldwork and research to analyze trends in Costa Rican women’s socio-economic engagement.

Author Biography

Amy Osborne is a graduate of Communication Studies from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. As a recipient of a Provost’s Grant, Amy was able to pursue research in women’s affairs in Costa Rica in early 2011. Amy is currently employed at a government relations and advocacy firm in Boston and remains passionate about women’s issues. She aspires to obtain a Ph.D. in International Policy and Development and advocate for women’s empowerment through education and grassroots campaigns.