Emancipation monitor 2010

Labour participation and economic independence of women increase in spite of crisis

  • Labour participation of women rose from 54 percent in 2005 to 60 percent in 2009. New figures show this remained stable at 60 percent in 2010.
  • The share of women who are financially independent rose from 42 to 48 percent between 2005 and 2009.
  • Fewer and fewer women cite care for children or family as a reason for not wanting to work. Three-quarters of women work part-time, however.
  • Most women and men say having work is important for their development and social contacts. Fewer women that men think work is important to be able to support themselves.
  • Traditional school subject choices are gradually becoming less gender-specific. However, care and welfare is the most popular discipline among girls and technology among boys in preparatory secondary vocational education (vmbo).

These are just some of the conclusions of the Emancipation monitor 2010 published jointly by Statistics Netherlands and the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) on Thursday 17 February and officially presented to the Minister responsible for emancipation policy, Marja van Bijsterveldt. The monitor, edited by Ans Merens (SCP), Marion van den Brakel, Marijke Hartgers and Brigitte Hermans (all Statistics Netherlands) was compiled at the request of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

The purpose of the monitor is to give a picture of the situation in the Dutch emancipation process. It looks at recent developments in the area of education, paid labour, combining work and care, income, political and social decision-making and violence against women.

Strong rise in female labour participation

In the period 2001-2005 net labour participation (the percentage of people with a job of at least twelve hours a week) of women aged 15 to 64 years remained about the same. After that it rose substantially: from 54 percent in 2005 to 60 percent in 2009. The newest figures (which are not in the Emancipation monitor) show that the rate remains at 60 percent in 2010, too. The target of 65 percent, as set in the policy document Meer kansen voor vrouwen (More opportunities for women) in 2007 has therefore not been realised. The labour participation of men fell by 2 percent points during the financial crisis, to 74 percent in 2010.

According to the international norm for labour participation (a job of at least one hour a week), labour participation of women is very high in the Netherlands (72 percent). Only in Denmark is it higher. However, in no other country in the European Union do as many women work part-time as in the Netherlands (74 percent). Germany is in second place; 45 percent of women there work part-time.

Between the ages of 15 and 64 years, 48 percent of women and 69 percent of men are ‘economically independent’. In other words they have a paid job that provides them with an income at least at the level of the social minimum income. Partly as a result of the high percentage of part-time workers, the percentage of economically independent women is significantly lower than that of men. The number of economically independent women has risen substantially however: in 2005 it was still only 42 percent. For men the percentage remained stable in the same period.

Care for family less and less a reason not to work

Over half of women already work for less than 35 hours per week before they have their first child. Following the arrival of their first baby, more and more mothers work the same number of hours as before the birth. Fewer and fewer women stop work or work fewer hours after the birth of their first  child. The percentage of mothers of young children who are economically independent has risen substantially: from 39 percent in 2000 to over 55 percent in 2009. 

Paid work important for women, but domestic tasks are still unevenly divided

A large majority of women and men say paid work is also important in terms of self-development and contacts with other people. Fewer women than men say work is important to be able to support themselves. Fewer women also see a financial need to work.

Most of the population think that an ideal job for mothers is one of three days a week at the most. For fathers, they see a job of four or five days a week as desirable. In addition, about 50 percent of men and nearly 30 percent of women say that a woman is more suited to raise young children than a man.

Although many women, and particularly men, indicate that they want to share domestic tasks fairly, in practice this is hardly ever the case. Surprisingly, couples hardly ever discuss or decide who does what: 40 percent have never discussed this issue.

Girls doing well in education

More girls than boys are in senior general secondary education (havo), pre-university education (vwo) and the highest levels of senior secondary vocational education (mbo). Moreover, fewer girls than boys repeat a class, and fewer leave school without a qualification. In higher education women account for more than half of students. They are also more likely to get their degree than men. 

Slightly more girls in technical and exact disciplines

The traditional discipline choices of boys and girls have become slightly less specific in recent years. Girls now choose technical and exact disciplines slightly more often. However, in preparatory secondary vocational education (vmbo) the choices are still quite gender specific. The relative number of women in the sciences disciplines in the Netherlands is the lowest in the EU. Not many youngsters choose a discipline connected with the occupation of their parents. Of those who do, boys are more likely to follow their fathers than girls their mothers.

Large wage differences

In 2009, Dutch women earned on average 80 percent of the gross hourly wage of men, in 2006 this was 79 percent. Part of these wage differences can be explained by differences in work experience, occupational level, education and management. But even if these factors are taken into account, a difference of 9 percent remains in the private sector, and 8 percent in the public sector. Gender-related wage differences are already present at the beginning of employment careers. Directly after leaving mbo, women with a full-time job earn less than men with the same diploma with a full-time job

More women in management and top positions

The share of women in higher and academic management positions rose from 24 percent in 2003 to 28 percent in 2009. In top positions, too, (CEOs,  boards of supervisory directors) the share of women has grown in some sectors. At the top of the 100 largest companies in the Netherlands, the share of women rose from 7 percent in 2007 to 9 percent in 2009. In the government sector, there was a sharp rise in the number of women among higher and top civil servants: from 20 percent in 2008 to 26 percent in 2010. The share of women professors rose to 12 percent in 2009.

Women more often victims of domestic violence

More women (14 percent of cases) than men (8 percent) are victims of domestic violence. Male victims know their attacker in just over one third of cases, for women this is the case in over half the cases; in the latter cases  the offenders are mostly partners, ex-partners or relatives.
Most sexual abuse is directed at women. Men are more likely to be victims of physical abuse, particularly in the street and on nights out.

For further information; Statistics Netherlands:  prof.dr. Jan Latten, tel.: + 31 70 - 337 4444, e-mail: persdienst@cbs.nl

For further information: SCP: Ans Merens, tel.: +31 70 - 340 7826/7000 06-31753586, e-mail: a.merens@scp.nl.

See also the dossier Emancipation op www.cbs.nl