#EqualPayDay: Netherlands just slightly above European avg. for gender pay gap

Today is Equal Pay Day in the European Union - the day when women symbolically stop getting paid compared to their male colleagues for the same job. The average gender wage gap in the EU is currently 16 percent, according to figures released by the European Commission. The Netherlands is in slightly better shape with a gender wage gap of 15.2 percent.

That means that Equal Pay Day in the Netherlands will fall on Wednesday, November 6th. From Wednesday, women effectively work for free through the end of the year in comparison to the wages of their male counterparts. 

Ten years ago the Dutch wage gap was 18.5 percent. It has improved slightly every year since 2011 to 15.6 percent last year and 15.2 percent this year. 

According to the European Commission, the gender wage gap is caused by a number of factors. These include the fact that management and supervisory positions are overwhelmingly held by men. "Within each sector men are more often promoted than women and paid better as a consequence." This culminates at the very top, with only slightly less than 94 percent of CEOs being men, according to 2018 figures from the European Commission. Dutch coalition party D66 recently called for a quota to be implemented for women in top positions, and employers' organization VNO-NCW expressed support for such a quota.

Women also take charge of important unpaid tasks, like household work and caring for children or relatives, far more than men do. Last year women in the Netherlands spent an average of 22 hours per week on such unpaid tasks, while men only did so nine hours per week. This results in women more often reducing their paid hours to part-time, one in three women do so and one in 10 men. Women also tend to spend more periods off the labor market than men, largely also due to unpaid tasks.

Segregation in education and in the labor market is also a contributing factor. Women are overrepresented in some sectors and occupations, while men are overrepresented in others. "In some countries, occupations predominantly carried out by women, such as teaching or sales, offer lower wages than occupations predominantly carried out by men, even when the same level of experience and education is needed", the European Commission said. 

Finally, pay discrimination, "while illegal, continues to contribute to the gender pay gap", the European Commission said.