Women working more but not in leadership roles (update)

Men have higher rate of violence in public areas, women suffer more domestic violence

EPFL by mr.KIO-10

EPFL regularly undertakes initiatives to encourage women to pursue degrees in technical fields, but men continue to far outnumber women (photo, copyright 2013 Mr Kio on flickr)

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – A number of events will take place in Switzerland 8 March to mark International Women’s Day. The Swiss federal office for equality between the sexes has, in advance, published a report on progress made in achieving gender equality in the country.


Level of Education – Women have largely caught up with men in the area of education: if the group between ages 25 and 34 is considered, looking at the lowest and highest levels of education there is “no significant difference”. The percentage of women getting a university degree has risen since 1999 from 9 to 21.7 percent. For men, the increase has been from 20.1 to 27.6 percent.

Chosen fields of study – Women are opting slightly more often, especially at university level, for fields that are traditionally seen as male: engineering, architecture, construction, technical and computer studies. Few men are choosing fields seen as women’s, however, health, human and social sciences, social work, teaching.

In the workplace – The number of working women has risen significantly, from 68.2 to 76.7 percent between 1991 and 2011 for women ages 15 to 64.  During the same period the percentage of men working fell slightly from 91.1 to 88.7 percent, for the same age group. The relatively high figure for women, the report points out, is due to the large proportion of women who work part-time, 6 out of 10, compared to 5 out of 10 in 1991. While the percentage of men working has remained little changed, the rate of men working part-time has increased, from 7.8 to 13.6 percent.

Only one in three women are managers

Women are working in greater numbers and are a larger part of the workforce, but their leadership level is unchanged, the report shows, with women continuing to hold only one-third of management positions.

Higher levels of female education can help reduce violence against women

Violence – Women are victims 3.1 times more often than men, but men are 4.1 times more often the perpetrators of violence, federal crime statistics show. Domestic violence has far more female victims: 15.4 per 10,000 people as opposed to 4.9 per 10,000 men. The figures show 15.7 men per 10,000 arrested for committing acts of violence, compared to 3.8 per 10,000 women.

The Geneva-based International Federation of University Women (IFUW) is calling for higher education and stronger policy measures for women to combat violence against women, pointing out that “it has been found in various studies that there is a correlation between higher education and lower risk of domestic and intimate partner violence, although the protective effect only appears once women have received secondary education. Studies also show that women with primary education are more likely to be at risk of domestic and intimate partner violence than women with secondary or higher education and that women with no education are less likely to report violence or are culturally trained to accept violence.”

The IFUW says that worldwide, one in three women has experienced violence and one in five women has experienced sexual violence in her lifetime. World Bank figures show that acts of violence among women between the ages of 15 and 44 cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. Around nine million Disability-Adjusted Life Years are lost annually to intimate partner violence.