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Switzerland’s gender pay gap closes further

© Charlieaja |

A recent survey by the Federal Statistical Office shows the overall median pay gap in Switzerland’s private sector shrunk to 12% in 2016, down from 12.5% in 2014 and 15.6% in 2010.

In 2016, median pay for women was CHF 6,011 francs a month and median pay for men was CHF 6,830. The gap rose to 18.54% for the highest management positions. Here median pay for men was CHF 10,878 and CHF 8,861 for women. For those with no managerial responsibility the gap was only 8.4% – CHF 5,607 for women and CHF 6,121 for men.

However, because the study does not compare pay on a job for job basis, it is unable to reveal whether women were being paid less than men for the same job.

A report published by the head hunting firm Korn Ferry found pay differences between men and women in Switzerland doing the same job were a statistically insignificant 2%.

By their calculations, Switzerland’s headline gender pay gap was 22%. This percentage fell to 3% once job level was factored in and declined further to 2% after company and function were factored in, suggesting calls for the same pay for the same job could be misguided.

Some studies even suggest focusing on hiring bias could in some instances be a distraction. Sometimes inequality can be explained by differences in the number of men and women applying for certain jobs.

One study, that looked at gender bias in the hiring of US university faculty in mathematical (STEM) subjects, illustrates this. 70% of the STEM jobs in the study were held by men. However, when they looked for hiring bias they discovered it was in favour of women not men. Any woman applying for a vacancy was far more likely to get hired. For example, a woman applying for a faculty position in electrical engineering was nearly three times as likely to get hired as an otherwise identical man. Even marked discrimination against men didn’t achieve equality because men applied in far greater numbers than women. In a situation like this encouraging more women to study these subjects and to apply for these jobs would probably make more sense.

The authors were quick to point out that their study doesn’t prove there is no gender bias against women anywhere in the STEM fields. They just didn’t find it in the hiring practices at these universities.

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