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Women stuck in professional rut

Young women are still more likely to be hairdressers than train drivers Keystone

Swiss women are still more likely to be employed in so-called "typical" female jobs, despite better education and a stronger presence in the labour market.

This content was published on March 7, 2005 - 16:50

Research shows that women now study for almost as long as men, while three out of four women are part of the workforce.

Two new reports presented on Monday by the Federal Statistics Office show that important steps have been taken towards achieving equality between the sexes.

Researchers say this is partly because women are spending more time getting an education.

According to the findings, women aged 30-39 spent eight months less in school than men, half the figure of a few years ago.

This trend is confirmed by figures for the 20-29 age group, which show both sexes almost neck and neck in terms of time spent in school. Among the over-60s, men are four times more likely to hold a degree.

But jobs seen as the traditional preserve of men continue to remain out of reach for many women, despite a more level playing field in the classroom.

Young women leaving high school are still more likely to enter the services industry, whereas men are attracted to technical and industrial jobs.

Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin complained about the dearth of women in the science and technology sectors during a recent speech at the United Nations in New York.

Social Democrat parliamentarian Barbara Haering has called for more women in top jobs. She recently tabled a motion demanding that women be given 30 per cent of board positions in companies in which the state holds a controlling interest.

These companies include telecoms operator Swisscom and the Swiss Federal Railways.

More working women

Women with a tertiary education have, however, begun to make inroads into male-dominated professions.

This is especially true in the technical and engineering fields; they have had a strong presence in the computer business from the outset.

There are also more women managers, thanks to promotions handed out during the 1990s. But they still only held 15 per cent of management positions in 2000.

The number of working women has risen from 45 per cent in 1970 to 77 per cent in 2000. They represent 44 per cent of the workforce, compared with just over third 30 years ago.

But women are also more likely to be unemployed than men, especially working mothers with children under the age of 15.

The unemployment rate for mothers with children under the age of six is around nine per cent – four times higher than the rate for men.

The jobless rate for men and women without children is approximately the same, at around 4.4 per cent.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

In 2000, 51% cent of women who worked were part-timers, whereas only 9% of men worked shorter hours.
Women represent just 30% of full-time workers, but 82% of those working part-time.

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In brief

In the private sector, men on average earn 20% more than women for the same job.

Time spent on education and professional experience are worth more to a man’s salary.

Men are more likely to be promoted.

Young men are more likely than women to spend an extra year completing their apprenticeship.

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