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Monday, March 5, 2012

“Dual Career”: A “way of life” in Switzerland?

For just landed individuals in Switzerland, one of the first culture shocks is often the gap between the role of women in the Swiss labor market compared to the one in the home country.
However, Switzerland is one of the European countries with the highest rate of female professional activity: between 55 and 60%! 
Looking at the poor offer in childcare solutions, this figure may come as a surprise and is more credible when completed with 2 additional statistics: The activity rate is 25% lower for women aged 30 to 40. Female part-time rate is, together with The Netherlands, the highest in Europe (>55%).
Dual career is therefore not a completely unknown topic here and we should say that the awareness and motivation to address the issue is very much present and is the promise for an optimistic development for professional women in Switzerland.
We would like to outline here some initiatives demonstrating the involvement of numerous organizations.

Firstly Switzerland has a Federal Office for Gender Equality, FOGE, supporting the deployment of concrete actions to improve professional equality. One initiative is the sponsorship of concrete projects publicly posted in the “Topbox”-

A survey ran by job4U2 and the HR Chair of the Fribourg University in October 2011 showed that close to 50% of surveyed companies think that the increasing rate of dual career couples has a major impact on the way companies should manage global mobility.

Many companies have started offering career support programs to the partner of their international employees. According to the study mentioned above, more than 60% of the surveyed HR Managers believe that providing career support to the spouses gives a company a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talents.

A group of Global leading companies have launched the International Dual Career Network (IDCN) in Switzerland. The network brings together the spouses of international employees of multi-national organizations and aims to provide a mutually beneficial job-search and recruiting.

Everywhere in Switzerland, Universities are showing the way: The national organization, the CRUS, has developed the “Swiss Federal Equal Opportunity at Universities Program” for the period 2000-2011.
The Dual Career Advice office of the ETH faculty of Zurich provides assistance in exploring career opportunities for the partners relocating from abroad.
Going one step further, Mrs. Klaas is leading a similar initiative within the Eucor between 5 universities across the French, German and Swiss border (Region Basel, Mulhouse, Freiburg).

Globally recognized and praised IMD in Lausanne has an MBA Partner Integration Program: IMD organizes a series of workshops, information sessions and networking activities free of charge and open to all Partners.

These numerous initiatives contribute to making Switzerland a country where Dual career couples will, in the near future, find a “way of living” that, we hope, is closely associated with the Swiss quality of life.

Sandrine van den Oudenhoven
March 2012

Copyright job4U2 2012


  1. Further reading:

  2. Hello Sandrine,
    This is a very interesting article. I am almost tempted to move to Geneva. Having lived in India, Dubai and Canada for many years, Switzerland seems to be a good multicultural place. My main concern will be the language. As a family we are all proficient in English. Will that be enough till we pick up the local language?

    Any advice on this will be very helpful.

  3. Hello Malay, thanks for your nice words.
    Send me an email to so that I can reply more in detail to your question.

  4. Some interesting information complement about dual career couples in Switzerland: