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Call to tap potential of professional working women

Six out of ten women lawyers in Switzerland work part-time. Keystone / Anthony Anex

Women make up half of the highly skilled workforce in Switzerland, but work fewer hours, according to a study published on Tuesday. One in three would like to work more, under certain conditions.

Women often opt for part-time work, and the liberal professions are no exception, says the studyExternal link carried out by the Sotomo Institute for the Swiss Union of Liberal Professions (USPL).

In 2019, 29% of Swiss women aged 25-64 had a university degree or professional qualification; the figure stood at 30% for men. But only 40% of hours of work were completed by women.

The survey asked 6,000 professional men and women with university degrees, such as doctors, architects, lawyers and engineers, about the reasons for choosing part-time work. While women cited family reasons, men cited more time for leisure activities.

For example, six out of ten women lawyers in Switzerland work part-time, and 84% do so for family reasons, Swiss Bar Association president Birgit Sambeth Glasner told public broadcaster RTS. “In comparison, less than 2% of men work part-time.”

One in three highly qualified women would like to work more hours under certain conditions, the survey found. But after starting a family they lack the necessary support from their partner who does not cut his working hours; from the Swiss state that does not provide adequate childcare facilities; and also from their employer.

The USPL is calling for measures to help redress the situation, including better, affordable childcare facilities and more flexible working hours. This is important it says, because there is a serious lack of qualified employees in the liberal professions.

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