Parenthood and employment: the impact of policies and culture on gender inequality in Switzerland

Ruedi Epple (Department of Social Sciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland)
Martin Gasser (Department of Social Sciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland)
Sarah Kersten (Department of Social Sciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland)
Michael Nollert (Department of Social Sciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland)
Sebastian Schief (Department of Social Sciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Publication date: 9 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the effect of cantonal social policies and cultural settings (in Switzerland) on women’s and men’s employment behaviour. Special consideration is given to the transition to parenthood.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on data from the Swiss Labour Force Survey (SLFS) this paper conducts multilevel analyses to test individual and cantonal effects on the probability of employment and on working hours. To analyse the effect of parenthood, models for women and men with children under three are contrasted with models for women and men without children or with older children.

Findings

The paper documents the persistence of gender inequality in employment linked to parenthood. How the reconciliation of work and family life can be realised for women and men strongly depends on a set of policies and cultural conditions. Moreover, individual characteristics such as education or marriage are important predictors.

Research limitations/implications

A shortcoming of this study is the focus on the individual employment use and not on household-level division of labour. This disadvantage is due to the design of the SLFS, which is (at present) the only available survey to allow regionalisation at the cantonal level. However, the paper adds important results to the debate about gender inequality and parenthood in Switzerland as previous research has focused only little on cantonal diversity.

Originality/value

The paper connects to previous cantonal comparative studies of female employment but extends their analyses in three important ways. By analysing cantonal differences in policies and culture this paper takes the diversity of framework conditions in Switzerland into account. Furthermore it simultaneously analyses male and female employment behaviour to get a better understanding of gender inequality and parenthood.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Order of authorship is alphabetical. All authors contributed equally to this work. The Swiss National Science Foundation funded this research. The research was part of the National Research Programme 60 “Gender Inequality” (Grant No: 406040_129250).

Citation

Epple, R., Gasser, M., Kersten, S., Nollert, M. and Schief, S. (2015), "Parenthood and employment: the impact of policies and culture on gender inequality in Switzerland", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 141-154. https://doi.org/10.1108/EDI-04-2014-0028

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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