In Switzerland, many professions are predominantly male, others are predominantly female. Gender segregation is much more pronounced than in the rest of Europe. Persons who chose gender-atypical professions often achieve above-average school results and show great self-confidence. These are the conclusions of a study which is part of the National Research Programme "Gender Equality" (NRP 60).
The study results and the text of this press release can be found on the website of NRP 60 (wwwnfp.60) as well as on the website of the Swiss National Science Foundation (www.snsf.ch > Press > Press releases).
Compared to other European countries, professional gender segregation is particularly pronounced in Switzerland: women predominantly work in female professions while men work in male professions. Gender segregation is problematic for a number of reasons: female professions such as care jobs often carry low prestige, offer few career opportunities and are badly paid. In addition, this segregation also leaves a great potential untapped because people who only choose gender-typical professions may never fully develop their abilities. Less segregation would also strongly benefit gendered professions such as engineering and health care, which suffer from a shortage of qualified personnel.
The study shows that choosing a gender-atypical education or profession continues to be the exception. Professional gender segregation is therefore not a generational problem which will disappear by itself in the next few years. Of the 6000 young people only 22 women and 20 men aspired to a gender-atypical profession when they were 16 and still work in this profession ten years later. This corresponds to less than one percent. In addition, some of these people work in a gender-typical niche of their profession.Influential gender stereotypes
The desire to start a family is another factor in choosing a traditional career: young women who wish to have children tend to choose female professions which will enable them to take maternity breaks and work part-time. Men who wish to become fathers are inclined to choose a profession promising a good income and career opportunities which will enable them to become the main earner of the family. These decisions early in professional life make it difficult to realise family models beyond the traditional breadwinner-housewife model.Opening doors to gender-atypical professions
How can gender-atypical professions become more accessible to young people? The researchers emphasise the importance of encouragement by family members as well as teachers and vocational trainers if a teenager expresses the wish to learn a gender-atypical profession. In addition, they recommend that schools and career counselors should increasingly discuss gender-atypical professions and family models beyond the breadwinner-housewife model. In typically female professions, remuneration levels and career opportunities should be improved; in typically male professions, part-time work and flexible working hours should become more standard.Contact
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