"You have to look at the system in which parents choose for a certain division of labour"

Vrouw stofzuigt met kind op arm, man kijkt op zijn telefoon op de bank © iStockphoto.com/grinvalds
© iStockphoto.com/grinvalds

The economic position of Dutch women is still not as strong as we would like. This becomes especially apparent when couples consisting of a man and a woman have children: women often start working part-time or stop altogether, while men continue to work the same hours. Prof. Belle Derks (Social, Health & Organisational Psychology) explains in TV programme Pointer how couples arrive at this division.

Prof. dr. Belle Derks
Prof. Belle Derks

Unconscious choice

The choice for a division of labour and the financial dependence that often comes with it is usually not a conscious one, says Derks. Research shows that few couples make a decision about this before they have children. That choice is much more implicit and largely determined by the environment: for example, it is difficult to find childcare and men who work part-time are seen as less ambitious, which means they get fewer opportunities. "So it's easy to say: people choose for it themselves," says Derks. "But you have to look at what system they choose it in."