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Swiss Maid

The Untold Story of Women’s Contributions to Switzerland’s Success

Margrit V. Zinggeler

Swiss Maid corrects the omission of women from historical narratives of Switzerland. Women helped with herculean effort in the formation of the small but extraordinary nation, known for its political neutrality and stability, fierce independency, multiculturalism, successful economy, and innovation. The author’s investigation and analysis of women’s work in Switzerland correlates women’s contributions with the country’s sociopolitical and economic successes. Women have made historic change in religious institutions, domestic life, artisanry and trade, education, care work, the military, politics, industry and business, and service sectors. Chapters present the qualitative and quantitative data necessary to establish socioeconomic arguments. Women have indirectly contributed to the GNP but more importantly to social progress and the well-being of the nation. Stories of exemplary, pioneering women are highlighted, but silent and silenced common women are also featured and finally recognized. Although Judeo-Christian traditions placed women in subservient positions, they developed their own strength and contributed to the national economy. However, women’s work was not sufficiently recognized and valued because of inadequate accounting and productivity models. Gender-specific education, division of labor, and gendered social structures of previous centuries are discussed in relation to women’s productivity and social changes in more recent times. Multifactor productivity concepts and social progress measurements shed light on the value of women’s work and care. Portraits of historical and contemporary women attest to their intrepid courage and extraordinary yield, without which the "Swiss brand" and the image of Switzerland could not flourish.

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Advance Praise for Swiss Maid



Swiss Maid

“Beautifully written and brilliantly researched, Swiss Maid not only reminds us of the powerful farmers, nurses, soldiers, and entrepreneurs—mothers, sisters, and daughters—who helped build a nation but also provides us with inspiring role models and hope for the future.”

—Iris Bohnet, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School, and author of What Works: Gender Equality by Design

“Margrit Zinggeler’s Swiss Maid is a great and yet untold story behind Switzerland’s success. The brilliantly written research teaches us all that progress, democracy, peace, and wealth is unthinkable without women. A truly delightful and empowering book to inspire old and young generations of women and men alike. Margrit Zinggeler is a must read not just for Switzerland.”

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