Feminist Friday

Sometimes when I’m discussing with Dutchies I like to throw this line out there:

“The Dutch state doesn’t want women to work.”

Almost everyone initially react with disbelief to this. Of course they do! It’s a capitalist country/system, everyone should work, blabla. But mainly, “it’s not a gender issue“.

But here’s the thing: in the company I work for there are around 50 employees, of which around 70% have children. All the women with kids work part time; none of the men with kids work part time.

But, you say, surely there is daycare/kindergarten?

Sure! For the neat pleasure of having a professional look after your kid, you can do like my boss, who pays €600/month for 2 days childcare a week. Just make sure you pick up the kid before 18:00 or you’ll get a fine.

My example is obviously anecdotal, and low and medium income takers get part of this cost back from taxes. (But still.) According to the Economist “in the Netherlands 26.8% of men and 76.6% of women work less than 36 hours a week”. (36-40 hours count as full time employment here.) This is reflected in both governmental positions and board positions which are ridiculously disproportionate; “The Dutch government has said that 30% of executive board positions should be held by women, but that may prove excessively optimistic; the level in 2015 was just 6%” (same source).

You can also read this report. It has pretty graphs like these:


And findings like this:

The absence of facilities and support for childcare made part-time employment the dominant coping solution for mothers. (p. 4)

Just to be clear; this is not about who “should” raise the kid or not. That’s completely up to the individuals as far as I’m concerned. This is about the system that indoctrinates people to think it has to be the mother. (I read an article in Elsevier where they had research saying that 80% of Dutch people believe that mothers are better parents than fathers, but I can’t find it online!) This is not even about career prospects.

Whomever stays home to raise the kids, think about your pension*! If you work part time and your partner full time – make sure that they also contribute to your pension. Years of part time working will affect your pension, and chances are you won’t be with the same partner then.

*Look at me being all optimistic and pretending like there’ll be any pension funds left once all the baby boomers have gotten their share.

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