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Despite changing attitudes, Swiss women still fear having a baby will harm their career

Despite changing attitudes, Swiss women still fear having a baby will harm their career
Photo: DANIEL MIHAILESCU / AFP
Women in Switzerland still feel having a child may damage their job prospects, a study has revealed.

Released in November after taking into account responses across the country, the report showed a majority of women said having a child would have a negative impact on their job prospects. 

These concerns were particularly high among tertiary-educated women, of whom 70 percent said they held such fears. 

Currently, women in Switzerland are entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave, while a recent proposal has been passed to provide men with two weeks off in the birth of a child. 

Women with a lower level of education – 62 percent – also said they feared the impact of childbirth. The fears were less prevalent among men, with 37 percent tertiary-educated and 30 percent of secondary school-educated men saying they thought having a child might have a negative impact on their careers. 

The study also showed that among those who wanted kids, two children was the preferred amount. A total of 60 percent of Swiss said they wanted to have two children, compared with four per cent who wanted just one child and nine percent who wanted no children at all. 

Childcare across the cantons

The study showed that while childcare was popular in Switzerland, there were major differences between cantons. 

In Romandy – the French-speaking part of Switzerland – approximately 50 percent of families used day nurseries or supplementary child care. 

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Elsewhere however, childcare use was much less common. In German-speaking Switzerland, only a third of families use childcare – while in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino less than a quarter use it. 

In both of these regions, care from family members is much more prevalent, with 43 percent and 48 percent in German and Italian-speaking Switzerland respectively. 

The research also illustrated an urban-regional split when it came to the use of childcare. Of Swiss families in urban areas around 60 percent use childcare, while in smaller urban areas that figure falls to 37 percent. 

In rural communities, less than a quarter of Swiss use childcare. 

Working mothers?

The study did however show a continued changing of attitudes with regard to working mothers. 

In the mid-1990s, more than three in five men felt that a child suffers when the mother goes back to work. This figure is now down to 36 percent, after being 44 percent in 2013. 

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Around one half of women surveyed in 1995 felt that returning to work early had negative impacts on the child, with that figure also decreasing to 33 percent in 2013 and around 27 percent currently. 


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