In 2018, 45 percent of people working in occupations at higher professional (HBO) or university (WO) level were women, up from 43 percent in 2013. At lower occupational levels, the share of female workers remained the same or declined over this period. Occupations at the highest level involve the performance of complex and specialised tasks, in most cases requiring a higher professional (HBO) or academic level (WO). At this level, social professions in particular have a relatively large share of women, whereas men are overrepresented in ICT, technical and management positions. One reason for the underrepresentation of women in managerial positions is that women are more likely to work part-time than men. Part-time workers are less likely to hold a management position than those working full-time.
Women less often in top positions
The share of women occupying a top position in the public and private sector is often lower than the share of men. In 2018, for example, 36 percent of the members of the Dutch Lower House were women, while the female share in management positions within the civil service was 38 percent. However, there were more female than male judges at the end of 2018, namely 63 percent. Within supervisory and management boards, women are a small minority although their share is rising. In 2017, 1 out of 5 top executives among the 500 largest enterprises were female; among the 5,000 largest enterprises, this was nearly 1 in 6.
Largest share of women in social professions
Occupations at the highest level with the largest share of women can be found in the sector care and welfare, and in education. The top ten occupational groups is headed by specialised nurses and primary school teachers: in 2018, more than 80 percent of positions in these groups were held by women. Other occupations with a female share exceeding 70 percent are social workers, psychologists and sociologist, and physiotherapists.
Doctors rank tenth place among high-level occupations with the largest female share. Women have a majority share among basic practitioners, pharmacists and general practitioners, while the majority of medical specialists and dentists are men. This list of ten professions hardly changed between 2013 and 2018. The share of women in these occupations grew fastest among psychologists and sociologists, doctors, authors and linguists, and physiotherapists.
|Beroep||2018 (% of women)||2013 (% of women)|
|Top 10 occupational groups|
|Primary school teachers||83.3||82.7|
|Psychologists and sociologists||76.3||69.6|
|Managers of care institutions||69.6||65.7|
|Educationalists and other teachers||66.6||63.9|
|Authors and linguists||61.4||56.3|
|Staff and career development specialists||61||62.8|
Male occupations at the highest level
Men with high occupational levels are a majority in ICT, technical and management positions. High-level occupations with a male share of 90 percent or more are electrotechnical engineers, logistics managers, ICT managers and production managers. The top ten high-level occupations with a male majority, too, has hardly changed since 2013.
|Beroep||2018 (% of men)||2013 (% of men)|
|Top 10 occupational groups|
|Specialised services managers||87.4||85.5|
|Engineers (excl. electrotechnical engineers)||87.4||85.4|
|Software and application developers||86.9||88.5|
|Database and network specialists||82.6||85.4|
|Sales and marketing managers||77.2||79|
Nearly three-quarters of highly educated with a care and welfare diploma are women
The large share of women working in occupations of the highest level in the sectors care and education is related to a large share of women with a completed degree in these areas. Of the highly educated 15 to 74-year-olds with a health care and welfare qualification, 73 percent were women in 2018. This share was 72 percent in education. Men took up the vast majority among highly educated with a degree in computer science (87 percent) and technology (82 percent). With the exception of computer science and design, art, languages and history, the female share was higher among 15 to 44-year-olds than among 45 to 74-year-olds.
|15 to 44 yrs (% of women)||45 to 74 yrs (% of women)|
|Health care and welfare||77.8||68|
|Journalism, behaviour and society||66||55.3|
|Design, art, languages and history||55.7||56|
|Agriculture, veterinary medicine and care||50.9||21.5|
|Law, administration, trade and business services||45.9||36.5|
|Mathematics, natural science||44.5||24.5|
|Technology, manufacturing and engineering||22.1||13.7|
Disciplines in higher education with a male or female majority
In the academic year 2018/’19, 748 thousand students were enrolled in a higher education study programme (higher professional and university education). Of this group, 51.4 percent (384 thousand) were women and 48.6 percent (364 thousand) were men. As for study programmes such as veterinary medicine and care, welfare and health care, female students are in the majority. Disciplines where men have an overrepresentation can be found mainly in technical areas, such as computer science, technology and technical services, and transport and logistics.
|Studierichting||Women (%)||Men (%)|
|Veterinary medicine and care||81.8||18.2|
|Hygiene and working conditions||73.9||26.1|
|Journalism, information supply||68.7||31.3|
|Behaviour and society||65||35|
|Biology and biochemistry||57.8||42.2|
|Environment and nature conservation||48.2||51.8|
|Mathematics and statistics||32.7||67.3|
|Architecture and civil engineering||28.7||71.3|
|Transport and logistics||19.8||80.2|