Employment Part-time work bad for mothers’ careers, stress levels

Part-time work means mothers are stressed at home as well as in the office


Part-time work hurts women more than it benefits them – especially in Switzerland, which has one of the highest rates of part-time work in the world, say researchers. 

Working part-time is not only a career killer but also results in mothers being overburdened: since their partners work full-time, household chores and looking after the children fall to them, according to a study by the University of St Gallen, published in the SonntagsZeitung newspaper on Sunday. 

As a result, mothers are stressed at home as well as in the office; frustration and exhaustion are guaranteed. 

Together with a long-term German study of 7,000 families, the Swiss researchers concluded that the higher the percentage a woman works, the happier she is – because men help out more and share the burden. 

In Switzerland, almost 30% of working mothers with children under 6 opt for part-time work at a 50% rate or less, says the Federal Statistical Office. The 30% figure rises for mothers of children aged 7-14. 

Among OECD countriesexternal link, only Dutch women work part-time more. 

Missing managers 

An additional result of this is that women are underrepresented at management level. The researchers said that in order to change this, one shouldn’t encourage part-time work but rather get women to work more during the week. 

Jacqueline Fehr from the centre-left Social Democratic Party said she advises her heads of department not to assign any jobs at less than 60%, in other words three days a week or equivalent. Small part-time shifts, she said, were “insidious for women”. 

For management consultant Sonja Buholtzer, the “demarcation line” for a career is 70%. “What costs women so much energy is spreading themselves thin and wasting time on many tasks,” she told the SonntagsZeitung.