Making men’s part-time jobs socially acceptable

House husband Keystone

Almost all men in Switzerland would like to work part time, but only about one in seven actually does so. A situation that has encouraged the government and a men’s group to launch a project to boost that share to 20 per cent by 2020.

This content was published on November 6, 2012 - 16:44 and agencies

To make part-time jobs socially acceptable, mä and the Federal Office for Gender Equality kicked off on Tuesday a campaign that shows that “real men can have a part-time career”.

The campaign logo’s “T” is a close cousin of the “S” superman wears on his superhero suit. This is no coincidence say the campaign’s backers, as making part-time work in Switzerland a social norm and natural career option will not be easy.

According to a survey carried out in canton St.Gallen last year, nine out of ten men would like to work part time and would even accept pay cuts in return. But only 13 per cent of men actually work part time, and less than one in ten fathers with small children.

“When it come to part-time work, what men want does not really correspond with what they actually do,” the project group writes on its website.

The reasons are not so much the companies, according to Markus Theunert, president of mä, an organization that defends the interests of men and fathers in Switzerland. Part-time jobs today are often part of company culture, Theunert said in Zurich.

The main stumbling blocks are fears of suffering a career setback and colleagues’ reactions, Theunert added. The project’s goal is to eliminate prejudices that part-time men are less productive and performance oriented than full-time workers.

The government is funding the 18-month project to the tune of SFr350,000 ($370,000), while mä is contributing SFr150,000.

Social media including Facebook and Twitter as well as brownbag sessions and life-size billboards will encourage men to venture into a part-time job, according to Andy Keel, who initiated the project.

Keel, who launched in 2008 an online platform that lists almost 8,000 part-time positions in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, said the campaign is a logical step towards making part-time work socially acceptable.

Modern men are increasingly involved with parenting, he explained. “We want to show that it’s possible and how it’s possible,” Keel stated.

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