Dutch women work part-time even in their 20s with no kids

Young Dutch women in their 20s are working fewer hours than their male counterparts, according to a study by the Dutch socio-economic think-tank SCP.

The Netherlands has the greatest proportion of female part-time workers in Europe. The study shows that the trend towards part-time work for women starts at an early age.

The greatest disparity is between men and women with a vocational diploma at mbo level: only 25% of women have a full-time job after they have finished mbo college while 75% of men have jobs of over 35 hours a week. Seven in 10 female university graduates work full time, compared with 90% of the men.

The study is the first part of a long-running investigation and does not offer any explanations for the lack of female participation in the labour market.

Child care not only reason

According to the NRC an explanation was forthcoming in a study conducted eight years ago and which looked at the labour participation of women aged up to 40. It showed childcare was not the only reason women worked part-time.

Sectors which traditionally employ mainly women, like health care and child care, simply did not have fulltime jobs on offer, says SCP researcher Ans Merens.

‘Home carers, for instance, could often work no more than five hours a day. And if they wanted more they were told it would damage their back. It’s interesting that such arguments are never used for builders. For them the solution is lighter bags of cement,’ Merens told the paper.

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The new study shows women are not particularly happy working part-time. They experience less job satisfaction than men of the same age and educational level and also feel their career chances are not as good.

Moreover, more women than men are on flexible contracts. The SCP says the reason for this is that women often graduate sooner than men and that first jobs often come with flexible contracts.

NRC also queried job centre organisation UWV about the findings. It focused on labour market demand as an explanation. ‘The greatest demand for jobs is in traditionally male professions, like plumbing or bricklaying. Look at IT: 80% of workers are men,’ head of labour market information Rob Witjes told the paper.

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