Why are there not more women in executive positions?

Swiss girls are better in school than their male colleagues. They learn better and have higher grades. In Switzerland, however, it is mainly men who make their careers. Why is that? Because in Switzerland the desire to have children is the number one career killer. Women still have to choose between having kinds and a position on the executive floor.

Women are massively underrepresented in the Swiss economy
Women are massively underrepresented in the Swiss economy

One of the most important factors that prevents women from advancing their careers as well as men is the poor availability of childcare. In Switzerland, there is a lack of nationwide, affordable daily structures with company-friendly opening hours. In terms of economic equality, Switzerland has lost three places compared to the previous year.

Switzerland ranks 20th

Switzerland ranks 20th out of a total of 149 in the WEF’s equality ranking. No result that the country can be proud of. Especially when you consider that countries like Rwanda, Nicaragua and the Philippines leave Switzerland far behind. The WEF measures equality in four areas:

  • education
  • health
  • policy
  • economy

And exactly at the last point Switzerland does very badly. According to the WEF, it will be over 200 years before women have equal rights in the Swiss labour market and the same opportunities, wages and jobs as their male colleagues. If Switzerland doesn’t push the pace and provide the necessary support and infrastructure.

Global Equality Index WEF 2018

Rank Country
1. Island
2. Norway
3. Sweden
4. Finland
5. Nicaragua
6. Rwanda
7. New Zealand
8. Philippines
9. Ireland
10. Namibia
12. France
14. Germany
15. UK
20. Switzerland
51. USA
53. Austria
70. Italy

It’s not about gender, but qualification

It would be important for employers no longer to decide between men and women, but to recruit the candidate with the best qualifications. However, this is only possible if the same conditions apply to all people. That is why Switzerland finally needs parental leave for mothers and fathers.

Poor childcare services make it difficult for women to work full time
Poor childcare services make it difficult for women to work full time

Maternity leave is one of the most competition-distorting factors in the Swiss economy. It also affects women who do not want children. But since they are women, even if they have top qualifications and training, they are not hired as a precaution to avoid the risk of maternity leave.

Anywhere in Europe there are more women in executive positions than in Switzerland. This is due to the women-friendly family policy that is part of the agenda, especially in the Nordic countries. But even in Germany, for example, the employer does not know whether the man or woman will be absent from the business if they become parents – because there is parental leave there that father and mother can share among themselves. So the best one gets the job there.

Women are stuck with part-time work

Due to the lack of support in childcare, many women in Switzerland are forced to make do with part-time jobs. In order to somehow reconcile child and job.

Around 60 percent of women in Switzerland work part-time, but only 17 percent of men do not have full employment. According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, a good quarter of women reduce their workload to less than 50 percent, but only 6 percent of men reduce their level of employment to such an extent.

Women often only work part-time
Women often only work part-time

Part-time work means above all to end up on the professional sidetrack. This is because opportunities for further training and career development are virtually wasted. In addition, part-time work often also means insecure working conditions and poorer social security.

Salary difference another factor

Why more men do not work part-time in Switzerland is also due to the large pay gap between the two sexes.

The average pay gap between women and men is 18 percent. The decision as to which of the two parents will work full-time is quickly made.

A large proportion of these 18 per cent can be explained by the fact that women are more likely to work in professions that are poorly paid or that they are less likely to be in management.

However, there remains a pay gap of almost 8 percent, which cannot be explained by these factors. Experience from the world of work shows that the striking difference is also due to the women, because they are generally less demanding and often sell themselves below their value in job interviews.

Women must become more demanding

Experts therefore advise women to better articulate what they want and to negotiate harder. Why this is not (yet) the case also has to do with the role model. There are still prejudices about how a man and woman should behave.

The average pay gap between women and men in Switzerland is 18%
The average pay gap between women and men in Switzerland is 18%

Especially in professional life. Women who are out of line, demanding and decisive are often degraded as “man-wives” or “with hair on their teeth”. She only behaves in the same way as men do. Women do best to learn both men’s and women’s languages. That is to say, where it is important to be persistent and not content with what is offered. And at the same time to rely on typical female strengths such as the ability to work in a team and empathy.

It takes the will of everybody

For women to finally be able to exploit their full potential and be adequately represented in the Swiss economy, concessions and the will of politicians, employers, men and women are needed.

Unfortunately, we at learn-swiss-german.ch cannot change the situation. But we know that foreign employees speak Swiss German and have a better chance of finding a job in Switzerland. So if you are female and looking for a new job, your CV will be great if you know the local dialect. Sign up for our online course now.


Why are there not more women in executive positions?
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