Facts and figures

  Average pay gap Explained share Unexplained share Unexplained pay gap based on the arithmetic mean
Overall economy 18.0%
(1'500 Fr. per month) 
52.2% 47.8% 7.8%
(717 Fr. per month)
Private sector 19.5%
(1'599 Fr. per month) 
54.7% 45.3% 8.1%
(724 Fr. per month) 
Public sector 15.1%
(1'373 Fr. per month) 
53.3% 46.7% 7.0%
(642 Fr. per month) 
(Source: Swiss Earnings Structure Survey 2020, Federal Statistical Office FSO)

Women’s pay slips show an average of 18.0% or CHF 1500 per month less than those of men. 52.2% of this gap can be explained by objective factors such as professional status, years of service or qualifications. 47.8% cannot be explained by objective factors and are potentially discriminatory against women.

The explained pay gap can be ascribed to ʹendowment effectsʹ or to structural differences between male and female professional careers: Women earn less than men do because they are under-represented in more demanding and senior jobs, because on average they are still less well-qualified and because they are more likely than men to work in low-paid sectors.

The unexplained pay gap cannot be ascribed to endowment effects and is potentially discriminatory against women. According to an estimate of the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), this potential discrimination meant that women suffered a total loss of earnings of CHF 7.7 billion in 2010.

Private and public sectors

Across the private sector the average gender pay gap is 19.5% (CHF 1599). 45.3% of this gap cannot be explained by objective factors. This amounts to CHF 724 per month (8.1%).

The pay gap in the public sector (Confederation, cantons and communes) is 15.1% (CHF 1373). 46.7% of this cannot be explained by objective factors, resulting in a monthly loss of earnings for women of CHF 642 per month (7%).

Great differences exist between the individual sectors. Differences are also found between regions.

Pay gap already exists at labour market entry 

Gender pay gaps can already be detected at the start of men's and women's professional careers. Not only is starting pay in typically male jobs approximately CHF 200 higher per month than in typically female jobs but the unexplained pay gap under the same conditions (class of degree, field of work and socio-demographic factors, etc.) is already around 7% or CHF 280 per month on entering the labour market.

Female managers also affected

Pay inequality and discrimination also affect women in well-paid jobs. Generally, the higher the professional status and level of skills required, the higher the pay and the smaller the proportion of women will be – contributing to an even larger gender pay gap. Among the possible reasons for this is the glass-ceiling phenomenon, where women reach a certain point in the hierarchy beyond which they cannot progress or only with great difficulty. Another reason is the sticky floor phenomenon, which means that having entered the labour market, women have to contend with waiting longer for promotions and pay increases. They also have to wait longer to take advantage of continuing education opportunities that may open the way to promotion and a rise in pay.

Mothers disadvantaged, fathers rewarded

On average, married women earn 24% less than married men. After the birth of a child they often no longer work or only part-time. Various studies have shown that women suffer a loss of earnings as soon as they become mothers. In contrast, most men receive a pay increase once they become fathers.

Further information