CBS: More women in the Netherlands are now earning high-end salaries

According to recent figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS), more women in the Netherlands are now in jobs that pay the highest salaries. CBS, which studied the gender pay gap in the country’s job market in 2020, found that the share of women among the highest earners at the 1000 largest companies had gone up to 26 percent, from 17 percent in 2017. The recent figures also showed that in 2020, in 163 of the 1000 largest companies in the Netherlands, the majority of the five top earners were women. These companies were mainly found in the healthcare sector. At three of the largest companies, the top consisted exclusively of women. The findings further revealed that in 2020, at 313 of the largest companies, the top five top earners were exclusively men. In 2010, this was the case at 474 companies. According to CBS, this all illustrates that the gender pay gap between women and men has changed significantly over the past decade.

Larger picture
Looking at all companies, CBS also found that the share of women in jobs with salaries of at least 100,000 euros had risen to 18 percent, from 10 percent in 2010. In last year’s CBS report, it had already observed that the gender pay gap had narrowed; its Labour Market in Figures 2019 paper, for example, had shown that women were doing better than men when it came to earning the average net hourly wage.

Part-time culture
The 26% of women who were high-end earners in 2020 was found to be in line with the percentage of women who worked full-time, which stood at 24 percent, CBS also reported. It said that the vast majority of top earners work full-time, but in the Netherlands, women tend to work part-time much more than their European counterparts. Working part-time is often seen as an obstacle to career advancement, and thus to earnings.

“We already knew that Dutch women more often work part-time than men,” wrote Sanne Wolters on 11 September 2019 in AD newspaper, and added: “The average is twice as high as in the 35 other European countries combined.” She commented on recently-published research by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), and argued: “As a country, we seem happy with our part-time culture, but it is not good for gender equality.”

NPO Radio also devoted some airtime to this issue in November 2020; Peter Hein van Mulligen, chief economist of CBS, told listeners he partly attributed this preference for part-time work among women to the conservative nature of the country. He said: “One third of people think that women are better at raising children, and that they should not work full-time.” He also told listeners that in the Netherlands, only 40 percent of young, highly-educated women has a full-time job. In other European countries, the average is 80 percent. He went on to say that the same figure applies to younger, highly-educated women without a partner. This, combined with the fact that in the Netherlands, children spend less time in childcare than they would for example in Sweden, may all help explain why traditionally, in the Netherlands there have been fewer women in high-earning, full-time positions.

However, as per the recent figures, there is now an upward trend in women earning high-end salaries and working full-time. FD newspaper stated that the 2020 CBS figures indicate that women are ‘moving up to the top of the corporate world’.

Top woman
Meanwhile, the NOS and other Dutch media reported that the Netherlands’ highest-earning woman, Nancy McKinstry of Dutch publisher Wolters Kluwer, earned 146 times as much as the average employee last year. In 2020, she reportedly made more than 14 million euros, the second-highest salary of all top executives of listed companies in the Netherlands.

According to online magazine Intermediair, which last year looked at what type of potential jobs are ensuring the highest salaries, those at the top earning brackets in the Netherlands are for example plastic surgeons (clinic directors), earning an average 420.000 euros a year, and senior medical specialists, earning 220.000 euros. A CEO or general director earns on average 210.000 euros.

Written by Femke van Iperen