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Men and women Gender wage gap starts before having a family

woman working on computer

The pay gap starts early, the study found

(© Keystone / Gaetan Bally)

Swiss women are already paid 4-5% less than men at the beginning of their careers, a gap which cannot be accounted for by differences in education, experience or job type, researchers have found.

Women in general earn around 20% less than men in Switzerland for full-time jobs, which is often put down to the fact that they shoulder most of the domestic and family burden. According to this scenario, the gender pay gap should increase after the birth of a child as women take on more of the childcare, according to a studyexternal link published in the journal Social Change in Switzerland.

But the authors have found that wage inequality starts long before this. Benita Combet and Daniel Oesch, attached to the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVESexternal link, used the data from two panel studies of women and men aged between 20 and 30 who did not have children to compare the evolution of their wages. They found an “unexplained” gender pay gap of 4-5% right from entry into the labour market. This effectively meant that young women without children were earning on average half a month’s salary less than their male counterparts.

The researchers said that the pay gap arose despite the adults having similar qualifications and experience and being in comparable professions and sectors. For example, in sales, men were earning more than CHF4,000 ($4,100) after a year and a half, but women around CHF3,850.

“The division of roles in the household after starting a family is in no way the only reason why there are wage differences between the sexes,” a statement concluded.

Keystone-SDA/Social Change in Switzerland/ilj

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