Gender discrimination in the Netherlands

Men and women have the right to the same opportunities in the labor market, no gender inequality, no discrimination. Shouldn’t be that hard. But in the Netherlands there still isn’t an equal participation of men and women in the job market and unfortunately gender discrimination is not yet something of the past. 

Human rights conventions obligate the government to stimulate full labor participation of women and to act against discrimination of women in the employment process. But even though these conventions exist, we are not where we should be. The gender inequality and the limited economic autonomy of women, has an influence on equal treatment. Also, the right to an adequate living standard and the possibility to participate freely in society is at stake. In this article we tell you more about it. 

Gender discrimination in the Netherlands

According to the CBS, in 2021 66,5 percent of women and 74,3 percent of men in our country had a paid job. CBS also stated that women have parttime jobs much more often than men. An average workweek of women in 2020 was 26,3 hours, while the workweek of men consisted of 35,4 hours. And did you know that almost half of all the working women are not financially independent? An alarming amount if you ask us. It means that they don’t even earn the minimum wage. 

This difference is mainly the result of gender stereotyping in society. Because unfortunately the thought is still that men work, while women take care of the family. This stereotype is reflected in the difference in wage, the representation of women in high positions and pregnancy discrimination. In the past few years the wage gap has been shrinking, but it is not nearly enough.

The wage gap

Female employees earned 13% less than male employees in 2021. A significant wage gap. Even when factors like age, educational level and job type are taken into consideration, nonetheless there is an unexplainable difference in salary between women and men. High paid jobs are mostly done by men and even in parttime positions, the male employee earns more than the woman.

This wage gap occurs already early in the career path of women. Men are getting paid more, based on criteria that are not important for the job itself. Qualities that are considered ‘masculine’, like flexibility, decision making and the will to take risks, are leading to higher wages for men. Which results in differences in earnings, even if the job description is exactly the same. Sounds like gender discrimination, doesn’t it?

After this, women always seem to stay a step behind. For a promotion or new job, the salary they get offered is based on the wage of the previous position and the starting point for negotiations about salary is much more challenging. A big disadvantage for women.

Women in high positions

When it comes to climbing up on the career ladder, the same conditions should be applied to men and women right? However, there is still gender inequality when getting considered for a promotion. According to research from the Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau in 2020, women have less chance to get promoted into a management position than men. 

This seems to have multiple causes. The choice of education or career of young girls and women, parttime jobs, interruption of the career (pregnancy or taking care of children), social norms and traditional stereotyping of gender roles and tasks are things that can influence the chance of a promotion. Also if it shouldn’t, obviously.

Pregnancy discrimination 

Even a pregnancy can have big consequences for women, not only in their private life but also for their career. More than 25% of working women with a child says that a pregnancy and maternity has had a negative impact on their career (College voor de Rechten van de Mens). 

Stereotyping is again playing a big role here. Employers may have negative expectations in terms of employability and the ambitions of working moms. Which results in, for example, not getting considered for a promotion. Also, temporary contracts don’t get extended because of a pregnancy and it takes a lot of time before women find a new job after that. Furthermore, demotion is a trend that frequently occurs after maternity leave. Women can’t return to their previous position and have to start in a lower segment within the company. We know it sounds ridiculous, but it is the sad truth.

What measurements are taken against gender inequality?

It’s crazy to think that in this day and age, gender discrimination in the labor market still exists. But our government is working hard to fight it. That’s why they stimulate women to get more financially independent. Flexible work hours, better conditions for maternity leave and financial allowances for childcare have to create better work opportunities for female employees. 

In addition, employers need to be transparent about wages and be obligated to pay men and women the same salary for the same job. Also, from the beginning of 2022 the government instated a quota for public companies, to have more women in high paid positions within organizations. 

It seems that everyone is aware of gender inequality and discrimination, but there is still a lot of work to do. Search X is determined to set the right example, that’s why we give equal opportunities to men and women.


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