Abstract: Women in Business: Chile from the 1870s to the 1900s

Bernardita Escobar Andrae


In this paper I study the extent of engagement of women in business activities during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. First, I review the literature concerning the relationship between women's participation in economic activity and levels of economic development. Second, I examine the evolution of female involvement in leading business roles through the study of two different and unexplored data sets collected for this purpose: the trademark registry—established in Chile in the 1870s—and the local business local tax system (Matrícula de Patentes) for Santiago, already in place in the 1870s. The paper confronts the evidence as told by censuses of the time and these data sets. As in recent studies for other countries, this paper finds evidence that contradicts an allegedly decreasing female participation in economic activity.