Equal pay for equal work: this principle is set out under the Federal Constitution, but its implementation is lagging behind. Women still earn significantly less than men, even if they hold the same qualifications, have the same length of experience and perform the same tasks.
Up until now, it was unknown at what career stage the gender wage gap opens up. Researchers led by the economist Michael Marti of Ecoplan, a research and consultancy company based in Bern, have now established that women are already paid less than men when they start out in their career.
The scientists analysed the data of some 6,000 young adults who had participated since the year 2000 in a long-term study on the transition from school to working life. They compared the entry-level salaries of young women with those of young men. In their analysis, the researchers examined a large variety of factors that could explain differing wages, i.e. schooling and training as well as grades in school-leaving and apprenticeship certificates. In addition, they also considered the skills of the young adults having taken the Pisa test, their profession and background, the size of the company and even the set of values of the young adults and the socio-economic status of their parents.
There are many reasons for this wage discrimination, according to the researchers. It cannot be ruled out that young men consciously or unconsciously choose companies where higher salaries are paid, or that they are more assertive when negotiating their pay. Furthermore, the early choice of a profession in the Swiss occupational training system seems to be detrimental to young women; they frequently opt for typically female jobs in the healthcare sector or work as hairdressers or florists, where wage levels are low as a rule. However, the researchers believe that the wage gap in itself is more likely the result of employers discriminating against women, i.e. they promote them to a lesser extent and offer them lower salaries. This discrimination may have to do with the fact that employers consciously or unconsciously assume that women will stay with the company for a shorter period of time because they will have children at some stage and therefore reduce their work-ing hours or leave the company entirely.Greater wage transparency
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