Categorized | Economy, Gender Equality, Legal

Studies Show Gender Equality in the Swiss Workplace

Posted on 20 January 2008 by LegalBeagle

The Swiss economy has made major strides in gender equality in the workplace, although some lacunae remain in comparison with other European countries.

In comparison to the Germans or the French, Swiss women retire more frequently from their professional careers when they have children, due to the difficulty of reconciling employment in Switzerland and family. Nonetheless, the discrepancies are far smaller than in the 90’s, when the phenomenon was far more marked.

Switzerland is one of the European countries where women are the most highly represented in professional careers – just behind Denmark, Norway, and Iceland, but ahead of Austria, Germany, France and Italy, according to a report published by the Swiss government statistics office (OFS). In 2005, 59% of women were working, against 49% in 1990. Switzerland is thus one of the countries where the difference between the rates of employment in Switzerland for men and women remains the most narrow.

woman in moment of professional contemplation

The important role of women in the employment market is explained in large part by the amplitude of part-time work, according to the OFS. With 58%, Switzerland came in 2nd in 2004 for the percentage of women working half-time, just behind the Netherlands. If the rate of employment in Switzerland and its evolution reflects major progress in gender equality, the results should be somewhat put in perspective, says the OFS. While levels of professional employment in Switzerland remain constant for men, it declines among women between 30-40 years old, indicating that women put aside their careers for several years to handle family obligations, and they return to the labor market afterward. This behavior, according to the OFS, is unique to Switzerland (and Austria).

In Germany and France, on the other hand, employment for women does not decline with the approach of the thirties but stagnates for a few years, before rising again. The behavior is again different in the Mediterranean countries with a net, definitive, drop when women reach the age of starting a family.

In numerous European countries, women (and often men too) receive long maternity leaves and possibilities for nurseries and childcare which are less abundant in Switzerland. The limited possibilities for childcare and nurseries is one of the factors making it difficult for women to continue working and raise young children at the same time.

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