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Family matters Working mothers more accepted, study shows

Women still overwhelmingly assume key child-rearing roles in Swiss households


Acceptance for women in Switzerland working outside the home has markedly increased in the past 20 years, according to a study on families and generations carried out by the Federal Statistical Office.

The nationwide poll of nearly 18,000 people carried out in 2013 shows that the number of people who agree with the statement “a young child suffers when its mother works” has fallen considerably since the mid-1990s.

Despite higher acceptance of women in the workplace, the study also revealed that balancing children and careers is a major consideration for women in Switzerland. Nearly 60% of women who had achieved tertiary education said that available child care – or lack thereof – influenced their decision regarding whether to have a child. In addition, more than 65% of university-educated women said that becoming a mother would have negative consequences for their career.

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Women also overwhelmingly assume key child-rearing roles in the household, according to the study. For 80% of those polled, the woman stays at home when a child is sick, for example, and in nearly 60% of cases, only the mother helps children with their homework.

Child care divide

In addition, the study also revealed a divide between urban and rural areas when it came to how children are cared for. In Switzerland’s six largest cities, more than six out of ten households rely on paid child care to some extent, while in rural areas, only about 35% of households used paid care.

Mark Stampfli of the Federal Social Insurance Office said that despite the study showing less need for paid child care in rural areas, the need in Switzerland is significant and is currently being addressed by parliament.

“There is too much demand for paid day care spots but there are not enough available [nationwide],” he said, adding that an employer’s willingness to contribute to Switzerland’s significant day care costs is a major factor for people deciding how their children will be cared for.

The Federal Statistical Office study, carried out in 2013, involved telephone, online and paper surveys of 17,288 people across Switzerland. They represented a random sample of individuals between 15 and 79 years of age.

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