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Women at work Wage gap widens higher up career ladder

Wages for similarly qualified men and women vary greatly across economic sectors, with women on the losing end. Though progress has been made in addressing inequalities, they remain significant as the world marks International Women’s Day on March 8.

In Switzerland, women earn on average 16.5% less than their male colleagues, according to 2012 figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The differences can be explained in part by the person’s individual profile (their age, education level, and years of employment), the type of job within the company and the field.

One aspect, however, remains unexplained. In the private sector, wage gaps have stagnated and even risen, from 39.6% in 2008 to 37.6% in 2010 and 40.9% in 2012. Significant differences emerge by separating economic branches, as illustrated by the graphic below. 

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The graphic also shows that wage gaps are greater for higher-level jobs, such as in the financial services or insurance industries.

That tendency is not specific to Switzerland and has also been observed by the OECD. A recent report shows that “on average in OECD countries, women earning the highest salaries earn 19.7% less than their male counterparts, while the difference in median wages is 15.2%.” And Switzerland doesn’t set a good example when it comes to wage equality compared to its European neighbours.

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You can contact the authors of this article on twitter: Katy Romy @KatyRomyexternal link and Duc-Quang Nguyen @duc_qnexternal link.


Translated from French by Veronica DeVore, swissinfo.ch

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