March 12, 2014

Nothing’s changed in Dutch women’s position at the bottom

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:25 am

The title of the Dutch Daily News article says it all: ‘The Netherlands ranks in bottom 10 performing countries for women in business’. “The Netherlands cites just 10 percent of senior roles occupied by women, a minute decrease from the previous year (11 percent).” This says nothing about the preponderance of Dutch women running small businesses, because that’s actually good news.

Every year around International Women’s Day (8 March) the Dutch government says it wants more women in top positions, but at the same time, its policies continue to perpetrate an insidious tradition of having new moms stay at home sometimes for years and then maybe pick up some part-time work. What’s more, lots of women without children have part-time jobs because they have a man paying the real bills, continuing a pattern that has outlived its use. However, it is true that part-time work is much more protected than in other countries and that you can still earn some decent money, albeit not enough to have the luxuries that many women enjoy as paid by their man’s full-time job.

While part-time work in other Western countries is associated with students and pensioners, in the Netherlands it is slowly turning into a synonym for unambitious Dutch women by the media. Personally, this hurts because I can think of dozens of women that work like crazy and don’t fit this bill, even remotely. And I say Dutch because apparently many immigrants don’t have options and work their lesser paid asses off, male of female, kids or no kids. We never hear them talking about having a choice, either, that’s for the more privileged group to defend.

The government blames big business, big business blames women having children (as if men weren’t part of the process), women with children blame childcare and childcare blames the government.

What I’ve learnt over the years is that many women don’t want to work more hours, but that’s easy to do when the rest of the money comes in as long as you keep your relationship intact. Part-time work for women is seen as normal, whereas elsewhere in Europe it’s seen as shortchanging someone out of a real job. However, part-time work remains career killer number one, that’s why men work full-time and remain chairmen of the board, not women.

In 2014, as far as having women in high places, The Netherlands is still the ‘unemancipated 1950s housewife’ of Western Europe.

2013: Lack of women in top management roles in the Netherlands

2012: Dutch women are unequal, change is slow and ‘Some 60% of women cannot earn their own keep’

2010: Women with partners prefer part-time jobs

2009: Women have low impact on Dutch work force

(Link:, Photo of Birthday cake by C J Sorg, some rights reserved)

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