Dutch women better educated but earn less

In honour of International Women’s Day, the European Union statistics agency Eurostat has published a summary of the gender gap in European work and education.

These statistics indicate that Dutch females are more likely than males to complete some form of post-secondary education. However, they have a greater tendency to work part-time and still suffer from a significant gender pay gap.

More women hold degrees

According to the study, which used data gathered in 2012, more young European women hold a post-secondary degree than their male counterparts.

39,9 per cent of women age 30 to 34 had graduated from a tertiary institution, while that number fell to 31,5 per cent for men. Within the Netherlands, this figure was 44,6 and 39,8 per cent, respectively.

Furthermore, it appears that men are more likely to abandon a post-secondary study before completion. Among the 18 to 24 age group, 10,2 per cent of Dutch males failed to complete their education or training, in contrast to 7,3 per cent of females.

This difference is similar to the European average, which was 14,4 per cent for males and 10,9 per cent for females. Bulgaria was the only European Union nation in which the gender gap was reversed.

Dutch women lag in engineering and science

Although more women may hold degrees, there is still a significant disparity when it comes to fields of study. Across the European Union, men and women showed varying preferences for their programmes of study.

In the Netherlands, women were more likely to pursue a field such as education (with 79,9 per cent of graduates being female) or health and welfare (74,8 per cent). Men still dominated the fields of engineering (80,0 per cent male) and science, mathematics and computing (74,8 per cent).

However, while this type of variation occurred across the continent, the gender ratios within fields differed between Member States. For example, although very few Dutch women studied science and mathematics, in Romania, females outnumbered males in this field.

Women more likely to work part-time

How does education translate to work opportunities? While women may be more likely to complete post-secondary education, they are less likely to find employment.

When considering Europeans aged 15 to 64, 58,5 per cent of women were employed in 2012, in contrast to 69,6 per cent of men. This type of inequality was consistent in all of the Member States; in the Netherlands the female employment rate was 70,4 per cent, compared to 79,7 per cent for males.

Moreover, women had a much greater tendency to work on a part-time basis. The Netherlands exhibited the largest inequality in Europe in this regard - 76,9 per cent of women reported working part-time, while this number was only 24,9 per cent for men. These statistics far exceed the European average of 32 and 8 per cent, respectively.

Gender pay gap still a reality

The gender pay gap in the Netherlands (the difference between the average male and female salaries) lies just above the European average. Dutch men tend to earn 16,9 per cent more than Dutch females, compared to a 16,4 per cent rate in Europe as a whole.

A recent study by Eurostat pegged the unadjusted gender pay gap at a slightly higher rate of 17,3 per cent and indicated that this pay gap in the Netherlands increased among older age groups.

Estonia, Austria and Germany experienced the biggest gender gaps in earnings, with respective rates of 30, 23,4 and 22,4 per cent.


Ellen Keith


Ellen Keith

A Canadian with Dutch roots, Ellen has had half her heart in the Netherlands since the day she was born. After years of visits and studying abroad, she finally made...

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