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The far-ranging 1990 (Law for Women’s True Equality) was intended to help close the gap between women’s legal rights and their “true” lives.It provided for a host of reforms, including that schools were supposed to modify materials that promote sexist stereotypes, such as books that state “Mother kneads the dough while Father reads the paper.”Laura Chincilla’s reign as President (2010-2014) was a real boost to the morale of all Ticas, showing just how far a (well-connected) woman can rise in a male-dominated society.

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Increasingly, both husband and wife work, and often a nanny or female relative spends more time with the children than their parents do.

In 2013, the fertility rate dropped to a historic low of 1.76 children per woman, the fifth consecutive year below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman.

The 1974 family code stipulates that husbands and wives share equal rights and responsibilities, and that a woman can do everything from inherit property to form a corporation on her own.

There are laws on the books against sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

The Institute of Social Studies in Population (IDESPO) reported recently that Costa Rican men earn, on average, 40 percent more than women, with the majority of female workers employed in low-paying agricultural, domestic, and manufacturing positions.

Add to that high rates of teen pregnancy, single motherhood, and domestic violence, and you’ll see that Ticas have a lot to contend with.Especially in the country, visitors are not often asked to come inside, although you may be invited to sit on the front porch and have a lemonade.Long-term expats joke that if you’re lucky enough to have a Tico invite you to his house, he won’t tell you how to get there.Start by being as polite as you know how, and try not to take offense if your friendly overtures are not reciprocated as you would like.If you have children, you’re one step ahead—you’ll have a door into Tico families with kids the same age as yours. And remember, there are plenty of other foreign residents who are in the same boat and more than happy to commiserate about it. The secret is finding a nice, traditional Costa Rican woman and to avoid getting involved with “bad” women.

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