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Girls hit the workplace

It's a fair cop! Mylene Granges accompanies her father, Philippe, on Daughter's Day last year swissinfo.ch

Thousands of Swiss girls accompanied their parents to work on Thursday to learn more about career options.

This content was published on November 13, 2003 - 08:13

The Take Your Daughter to Work Day is aimed at encouraging girls aged between ten and 15 to consider the broad range of professions open to them.

The scheme was launched two years ago and has snowballed. Around 20,000 girls and 10,000 companies have participated this year.

“Making a career choice comes at a difficult age for girls - during puberty - when girls begin to lose interest in traditionally male-oriented subjects,” said Maria Roth-Bernasconi, who is in charge of the project in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

“We’re keen to get them thinking about what they want to do later. We also want parents to appreciate the importance of a career choice for girls.”

Dominant male

Fathers are encouraged to take their daughters to work because the scheme aims to introduce girls to the more traditionally male-dominated professions.

If dad is not available, girls can choose to spend the day with their mothers or other relatives or friends.

The event is organized nationwide by the Swiss equality office and has grown spectacularly since it was launched two years ago.

In 2001, about 1,200 girls visited 800 different workplaces with their fathers.

Last year, there was an explosion of interest with 12,000 daughters and 7,000 companies taking part.

This year’s participants include the federal government, Swiss Federal Railways, the post office, industry and hundreds of smaller businesses.

Top jobs

It’s not yet known whether the scheme is having any effect on the sort of apprenticeships that girls are applying for.

The organisers say an evaluation will take place after this year’s event.

As for demands to let boys take part too, Roth-Bernasconi says the girls need a push because of inequalities in the world of work.

“There are still plenty of jobs which are male-dominated and not many where women predominate,” she told swissinfo.

“What's more, if you look at the hierarchy of most companies, you see that men occupy most of the positions of authority.”

Vicious circle

She said it was necessary to break out of the vicious circle where the girls were much more limited in their choices than the boys.

“Girls tend overwhelmingly towards three areas – sales and business, the caring professions and the hotel-restaurant trade.

“Boys on the other hand go for a much wider range and particularly professions which offer good career prospects like mechanical engineering and computers.”

Roth-Bernasconi said there had been no change in the past 20 years partly because of a lack of role models.

“We’ve got to smash the prejudices,” she said. “If girls go to their fathers’ workplace – last year, three out of four girls did – they can see that it’s not so difficult and perhaps that inspires them to widen their options.”

swissinfo, Chantal Nicolet and Vincent Landon

Key facts

The Take Your Daughter to Work Day is now in its third year.
The aim is to get girls aged between ten and 15 to think about different career options.
The event is organised by the Swiss equality office.
Organisers say many girls still do not see themselves having a long professional career.
Discrimination in the workplace is still a problem in Switzerland despite progress towards gender equality over the last few decades.

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