Fewer women at the top due to part-time work and (company) culture | News report

News item | 23-09-2022 | 00:01

There are still fewer women in top positions than men in the Netherlands. This is partly due to the fact that many women work part-time. In many organizations and companies, the culture is not to offer part-time management positions, and people who work part-time are often seen as less ambitious. As a result, women are underrepresented in leadership positions. To change this, organizations and companies must implement a diversity policy with measures within terms of employment and career policy. In addition, there is a need for a social debate in the Netherlands about part-time work and holding a managerial position.


The proportion of women at the top remains behind

Although the number of women in top and management positions has increased in the Netherlands over the past 20 years, there are still far fewer women than men in such positions, especially in large companies. While the government has introduced a quota for women at the top of listed companies from January 1, 2022. How can it be explained that there are still so few women working as managers or top managers? This question has been empirically investigated for the first time on the basis of recent national data and is central to SCP researcher Ans Meren’s thesis.

With his thesis ‘A long way. The underrepresentation of women in management and at the top explained in more detail’ Ans Merens will receive his doctorate from Utrecht University on 23 September 2022 at the Faculty of Economics.

Less flow of women to the top

The research, in which people have been followed for a long time, shows that women’s reduced progression to leadership and top positions is a reason for the underrepresentation of women in top and management positions. The outflow of women from top and management positions is as great as that of men. It therefore does not play any role for the small proportion of women in top and management positions.

Part-time management unusual

In addition, the thesis shows that the unequal relationship between women and men in management and top positions is mainly determined by the fact that women work part-time much more often than men, and that part-time management is not common in many companies. . It turns out that part-time work – but also a little overtime – is unfavorable for later promotion opportunities to management positions. Part-time employees are often seen as unambitious. The number of working hours is important. Working in large part-time jobs offers a greater chance than small part-time jobs for promotion to management positions.

Targeted diversity policy with involvement

Merens leads in his thesis to get more women at the top, a diversity policy with actual involvement from the top in this policy is an important prerequisite and concrete goals must be set with an action plan. In addition, not one specific measure, but above all a large number of different measures within an organization seem to be effective, such as in terms of employment (e.g. the option to work from home) and career policy (e.g. e.g. offers management training).

Social debate about work

In addition to Ans Merens’ PhD research, the SCP report ‘Once part-time, always part-time’ on part-time work in the Netherlands will be published on 28 September. This research shows that part-time work by women is rooted in Dutch culture and structure. If we want to change this – among other things in light of the lack of labor market – a broad social debate must be held about how (paid and unpaid) work is organized in the Netherlands, how we see the labor market in the future. and what it would take to achieve it.

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