Jobs for mums

Jill Altenburger and Nanette Steiner both worked full time in managerial positions before they had children. Nanette worked in product marketing and finance and Jill in sports marketing and events management.

Jill [pictured right] has a 15-month-old daughter, but found it difficult to find a suitable part-time position with less travel once she had had her. In Switzerland, where she lives, there is no right to request flexible working and employees have to rely on their employers’ goodwill.

She had a few interviews for new part-time positions, but they were all at a lower level than the qualifications and experience she had. In fact, she finished a master in marketing and sales just the month before her daughter was born.

She was not prepared to take a lower position simply because she had three months out of the workplace and wanted to work part time. In Switzerland paid maternity leave is just three months. Depending on the employer, women can take another three months on top of this unpaid, but have no legal guarantee that their job will be there for them when they return.

“I wanted a job that progressed my career not rather than taking me backwards,” she says. “I could not understand why I had to take a different job at a lesser level than I had done before just because I was a mother.”

Nanette, who has two children aged three and five, had similar problems. So the two women decided to set up an organisation which, like Workingmums.co.uk, advertises flexible challenging jobs which match women’s experience. Jobsfürmama [Jobs for Mums] goes live in the autumn. Before writing their business plan, the two women did their research with employers and mothers to find out what the demand and interest was.

Jill says the biggest challenge is undoubtedly trying to get across to SMEs in particular the benefits of flexible working and hiring mothers. “In Switzerland many people still think of mothers as being hugely stressed and often absent when their children are sick, although the statistics show the opposite is true. They are very efficient, organised people who can work well under pressure and in a team.”

So far the response has been positive, although the proof of the pudding will come in the number of jobs they advertise when the site goes live.

Childcare

In Switzerland 58% of women work part time, compared to just 14% of men. Jill says the demand for flexible working is increasing, but most part time jobs on offer are more than 0.5 per cent roles. Childcare, says Jill, begins from three months and costs vary depending on the area where it is located (city or countryside) and whether it is subsidised or not. Private nurseries tend to be very expensive, particularly if you have more than one young child.

Nevertheless, more and more mothers want or have to work. In addition to flexible jobs, Jobsfürmama will offer advice and information on issues like how working part time affects health insurance and emergency childcare.

The site is working in tandem with two German women who are setting up a similar site in Germany. “We are trying to reduce our costs for set up and design and using a common brand image,” says Jill. “They had the same idea at the same time as us so we thought why not collaborate. There are similar issues in many countries.”

*Jill and Nanette will blog about their experiences in the lead-up to their launch.




Comments [2]

  • Anonymous says:

    I believe that a one of the major reasons why women in Switzerland are not working or leaving their job after having given birth to a child is due to the fact that they are not even given the opportunity (in a flexible manner) to prove that they are able to handle both: work and family.

    Further, unfortunately in certain countries like Switzerland the social infrastructure is missing flexibility and the mindsets, at times, are lacking openness towards working mums and part-time jobs. Having said this, part time jobs in Switzerland are unfortunately often reduced to very simple administrative tasks. However, I believe that also a part-time job should be given the appropriate relevance and can be a key position, depending on how it is handled.

    Jill and Nanette’s approach will, on one hand, help working mums to find a relevant and appropriate position, but more importantly I believe it will help to change the mindsets of employers. It will make Swiss employers more aware of an employee target group which some of them might have neglected so far. In addition, they will realise how valuable this target group is for them, if given the right amount of flexibility and the opportunity to prove itself.

    I look forward to exploring Jill and Nanette’s platform!

  • Anonymous says:

    I think it is great that the efforts to bring mothers back into the work environment are gaining momentum internationally. After very good projects and websites launched in the anglo-saxon parts of the world it is just about time that someone tries to solve the evident issues in Switzerland. I sincerely hope that jobsf�rmama.ch is going to be a huge success in a country where mothers really need something like the platform that jobsf�rmama.ch is giving them.

    All the best to the two entrepreneurial at jobsf�rmama.ch women and their German counterparts!


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