About 75% of Dutch women who work are working part time, compared to 20% of Canadian women, according to an article in Macleans called “How Dutch women got to be the happiest in the world?” http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/08/19/the-feminismhappiness-axis/
The article presents conflicting views about whether this is good or bad. The women say they are happier because they can live their life easily and spend time with their children as well as have part-time jobs that they enjoy. The opponents feel that highly educated women are not using the talents that they have, and also perpetuating lower pay for women in the workplace.
I am curious to know if the Dutch men are also the “happiest in the world”. Do they welcome the fact that their wives can spend more time at home? Perhaps this frees them up to focus more on their work since they have more support at home and this takes us back to a time of more “traditional” roles? Or do they also long to work part-time and feel envious? Would they also like to pursue this option?
I would also like to know if Dutch companies are much more amenable to higher paying jobs being split into part-time job sharing or other arrangements. Certainly, we have a long way to go on that in Canada. It is uncommon for most employees to find rewarding part-time positions except in certain fields. In some cases, full-time employees can negotiate a part time position after being with a company full-time for awhile, but to start and continue a career as a part-time employee is very rare. Then there’s the issue of income and benefits. It would be important for companies to provide some level of benefits for part-time employees, but it is understandable that they could not provide 100% of the benefits of a full-time employee.
Of course, higher level part time jobs would also be attractive to older employees. This could go a long way towards preventing a labour shortage and also help older people to continue with productive lives.
So my key question is “Why has our society and industry decided that you have to work full-time to have a fulfilling job and career?” If you scan any job site, and select “part-time”, you will see primarily low-paying, casual jobs.
I would love to hear your thoughts.