About 47% of all women participate in the world of work.
They take up careers as teachers, coaches, farmers, priests, soldiers, and beyond. These 42 stunning portraits from Reuters show women at work around the world.
Shinto priest Tomoe Ichino, 40, performs rituals of the indigenous faith of the Japanese people in Tokyo, Japan. She wears a pink robe because it makes her feel confident.
“In general, people think being a Shinto priest is a man’s profession. If you’re a woman, they think you’re a shrine maiden, or a supplementary priestess,” Ichino said. “People don’t know women Shinto priests exist, so they think we can’t perform rituals. Once, after I finished performing jiichinsai (a ground-breaking rtitual), I was asked, ‘So, when is the priest coming?'”
Cristina Alvarez, 29, says she doesn’t face inequality as a butcher in Mexico City, Mexico.
Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters
“I’ve never felt any gender inequality,” Alvarez told Reuters. “I believe women can do the same jobs as men and that there should be no discrimination.”
Elizabeth Mamani, 36, is a reporter working at Radio Union in Bolivia’s national congress building in La Paz, Bolivia. She is sometimes barred from events because of her gender.
“When I started in this job, I did feel discrimination (from officials who controlled the access of members of the press to events). To counter discrimination in this profession, we as women, must excel, we must prepare ourselves in every field,” Mamani told Reuters.
Claudia Concha Parraguez, 45, teaches the art of pole dancing in Santiago, Chile.
“Some students with low self-esteem smile more and feel beautiful after training. But because of the poor mentality of their husbands, who do not see this activity as a sport and associate it with something sexual, they stop attending classes,” Parraguez said.
Yolaina Chavez Talavera, 31, breaks down stereotypes as a firefighter in Managua, Nicaragua.
“In my early days as a female firefighter, men — my team mates — thought that I would not last long in the organization due to the hard training. However, in practice I showed them that I am able to take on tasks at the same level as men. I think women must fight to break through in all areas, in the midst of the machismo that still persists in Nicaragua,” Talavera said.
Rosa Amelia Mejia Reyes, 35, sells newspapers on the streets of San Salvador, El Salvador. Her family doesn’t approve, but Reyes is able to support her children because of the job.
“As a woman I have suffered many things, [including] physical abuse from many people. I have suffered discrimination for selling on the street, even from my family,” Reyes said. “But in spite of everything, as a woman and as a single mother I have raised my children.”
Sarah Hunter, 31, captains the British women’s national rugby team. She’s also a development officer of the Rugby Football Union, the sport’s governing body in Britain.
“I think that I’ve been very fortunate in the career that I’ve had and in the jobs that I’ve had, that I’ve been seen for the person that I am and not for the gender that I am,” Hunter said.
Aimee Pompa Bolivar, 43, works as one of many female librarians in Havana, Cuba.
“I don’t see gender gaps at work. Here, all librarians are women,” Bolivar told Reuters.
Yanis Reina, 30, fills tanks as a gas station attendant in Caracas, Venezuela. She says her clients are like family because they often chat while the tank is being filled.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
“No doubt this is a job initially intended for men, because you have to be standing on the street [during] your shift, it is dirty, greasy, and there is always a strong gasoline smell,” Reina said.
“But I adore my work. … With the difficult situation that we have in Venezuela, having a job that covers your expenses is almost a luxury, but beyond that, I’m very proud of my job. I believe that now we, the women, have to be the warriors,” she told Reuters.
Lina Maria da Silva, 62, a babysitter, takes care of children out of her home in the Cantagalo slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She says she has never suffered mistreatment.
“I have always felt a lot of affection from the families I have worked with,” Silva said.
Rocio Larranaga, 53, a surfer, teaches the sport in Lima, Peru. She says she is the first woman to represent her country in national and international surf competitions since 1977.
“Lots of women surf and they are very good at it. I hope that in the future women have the same quota as men in professional competitions,” Larranaga told Reuters.
Rosalina Dallago, 52, a former model, owns three shoeshine shops in Rome, Italy. Some of her most loyal customers are lawmakers from the House of Parliament.
“My customers see me as a professional before they see me as a woman,” Dallago told Reuters.
Jauna Diaz, 43, keeps the streets of Mexico City, Mexico, clean as a street sweeper.
“In my previous job my boss gave preference to male colleagues and women always were paid later. That’s why I changed jobs,” Diaz said. “To tackle gender inequality I think there needs to be more communication and information about women’s rights in the work place.”
Tara McCannel, 44, is an associate professor of ophthalmology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Women are held to a higher standard in knowledge, in abilities, in how the clinical practices go, in appearance,” McCannel said. “Women just can’t be themselves or just think, ‘Oh, I’m just going to do my work,’ and focus on the job. There are these other things that need to be considered because it’s not completely equal, even though things are getting better.”
Maxine Mallett, 52, runs a primary school in south London, Britain.
“The most stressful time of my career was when I had children. Women who…