"Women are just as likely to ask for a higher scale, but they are less likely."

Picture: Nanne Meulendijks

Payment for women in higher education lags behind

The pay gap in higher education is shrinking, but women still earn on average more than 200 euros per month less than men. This is evident from research by Zestor, the labor market and training fund for higher professional education.

Compared to research from 2016, the salary difference between men and women at the five universities of applied sciences surveyed has decreased considerably: from 9,1 percent to 4,1 percent. This concerns the difference based on the total average gross monthly salary for five job grades together. Because the number of schools surveyed has been expanded to nine, this comparison is not entirely fair.

The gender pay gap at all nine institutions that participated this year is almost 6 percent. This corresponds to the wage difference calculated by Statistics Netherlands for 2020 for the government sector, of which higher professional education is part. Nationally, the difference is 13 percent.

Higher function

The biggest explanation for the pay gap in higher professional education is difference in function (80 percent), followed by difference in age (11 percent). If men and women hold the same position, men also earn more; a wage difference of 1 percent. In other words: there are mainly more men working in higher positions, so they earn more than women. In addition, male colleagues in higher professional education are often older, which is often accompanied by more work experience and therefore a higher salary. From the age of 60, men are even in the majority, while proportionately many more women than men work in higher education.

'In teaching positions there is often no good explanation for the pay difference'

A difference of 4,1 percent amounts to an average of 200 euros less per month and 6 percent to 276 euros. For job grades 10, 11 and 12, the wage difference is around 1 percent to the detriment of women. That equates to an average of 50 euros per month. Moreover, especially for scales 10, 11 and 12, there often appears to be no good explanation for the difference in pay, while 70 percent of all employees are here, mainly teachers.


Men therefore earn more than women for the same work, even though they have the same backgrounds. “That is not right and we have asked Zestor to investigate this further,” says AObdirector Douwe van der Zweep. “A difference of 1 percent is also unjust, but it is small beer if you compare it with who gets the higher positions. These are still the men in both management and teaching positions.”

Zestor will also investigate further why that is. The report also shows that women in higher professional education earn more than men in the lower job grades. This seems positive, but the difference is mainly explained by the difference in age. 'It seems that women remain in these job scales because there are relatively many women in the older age category compared to men', the research report says.

'Women are estimated to be lower and are less likely to be promoted than men'

The biggest problem is that women have to deal with prejudice, says Sophie van Gool, economist and author of the bestseller Why women earn less and what we can do about it: “It's a vicious circle: men are in higher positions and take other men. to those that resemble them. Women are rated lower and are less likely to be promoted than men. It's a myth that this is their fault because they don't negotiate well. They ask for a higher scale just as often, but have less chance. That's just persistent sexism."

Read the report here''Equal pay in higher professional education' from Zestor. 

This is an abridged version of the article 'Teachers m/f don't earn the same' from the October issue of Education. Members receive the magazine in the mail every month. Become a member of the AOb!

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