In the past, women demanded the right to higher education, then equal rights with men, and most recently the right to have a career. Nowadays, many women juggle a career and a family. But are they completely satisfied with their lot?

Swiss Life in Luxembourg sought to answer this key question by dedicating this year’s annual survey to the topic of women. Run during the first half of June, there was an enthusiastic response to our invitation to women to express their point of view online on the theme of “Women, work and pensions”. With more than one thousand questionnaires returned, Swiss Life doubled last year’s level of participation, when both men and women were consulted.

Some gender discrimination still remains
Judging from the survey findings, gender is not particularly responsible for obstacles to advancement in the job market. At least, this is what 7 out of 10 female employees say. However, 17% of the women surveyed still indicated that they face problems connected with their gender.

More worrying, only 27% of women responding believe that they earn the same salary as a man doing the same job, with this apparent inequality most prevalent in the private sector. These results give pause for thought, as women tend to mention salary when asked which aspects of their job matter to them most.

Achieving a work/life balance
Running a close second to salary in women’s aspirations is the pursuit of a good work/life balance. The results of the survey clearly show that women yearn for more flexibility in their work hours. Thus, half the surveyed women in full-time employment admit that their working hours are dictated by their employer, and 53% of them would work part-time if they were offered the opportunity to do so.

It is interesting to note, however, that among women now working part-time, 90% had chosen to do, and 89% have no desire to return to full-time work. This result runs counter to the frequent suggestion that women only work part-time because they are forced to do so by their employer.

Seeking more non-statutory benefits
Finally, one quarter of participating women expressed dissatisfaction regarding non-statutory benefits. 17% of working women even declare that they do not receive any non-statutory benefits at all.

The responses received for the private sector indicate that a supplementary pension scheme is offered to 66% of women. This significant incentive is clearly appreciated, and tops the list of sought-after benefits in a context where few are satisfied with their pension prospects.

Pensions: between lack of awareness and concern

Asked whether they would be able to survive on the state pension alone, only 12% of women replied “yes”. The rest were divided equally between an outright “no” and “don’t know”.

It also emerged that working hours have little impact on women’s opinions with regard to retirement pensions. Women working part-time were neither more nor less worried than their full-time colleagues. This begs the question: are women really so unaware of the impact of working part-time on the amount of their retirement pension?

What can be done?
The results of the survey provide an interesting snapshot of current (female) perceptions of gender equality in the Luxembourg work environment. One important aspect of the feedback is the strong indication that companies may be failing in their overall duty to educate their workforce on pension matters. This is a situation that requires urgent remedy – and which Swiss Life in Luxembourg would be happy to help its clients address.

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