Women on the labour market: two out of three have a job

Work & training
Women on the labour market: two out of three have a job

8 March : International Women's Day

Since the third quarter of 2017, the unemployment rate of women has been below the level of men, according to the latest figures of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, on the labour market.

The results are based on the Labour Force Survey.

Yet men are still more often at work. In the third quarter of 2019, 74.8 % of men aged 20 to 64 have a job, compared to 66.6 % of women in that age group.

More in the public sector, fewer self-employed

The professional status in the main job varies greatly according to gender, according to the figures from 2018. In the public sector, 57 % of the employees are female, while only 1 self-employed out of 3 is a woman.
Women are mainly employed in the sectors of health care and social work, education and trade.

* Independant = self-employed, employers and unpaid family workers

Women represent the majority of clerical support workers, service and sales workers, professionals and elementary occupations (domestic helps, etc.). However, they represent only a tiny proportion of craft and related trades workers, plant and machine operators, and assemblers, skilled agricultural workers or armed forces occupations. Finally, only one manager out of three is a woman.

Men and women looking for another job mainly want this because they want different working conditions and a job that better matches their qualifications. Women also want to find another job to be able to work more hours. However, men more often look for a new job because they see their current job as a transitional job or because they are looking for an additional job.

Main reason to look for another job Men Women Total
Afraid to lose his/her present job 12% 13% 13%
Looking for another job that better corresponds to his/her qualifications 18% 21% 20%
Looking for a job with more working hours per week 12% 15% 13%
Looking for a job with fewer working hours per week 1% 0% 1%
Looking for better working conditions 29% 29% 29%
Looking for an additional job to supplement the present one 5% 3% 4%
Present job considered as a transitional job 15% 11% 13%
Looking for a job in the immediate surroundings 8% 9% 8%
Total 100% 100% 100%

More women with higher diplomas but lower hourly wages

In Belgium, 54.4 % of women aged 30 to 34 have a higher education diploma, compared to 40.6 % of men of the same age group. In 2018, the number of early school leavers among 18-24 year old women amounts to 6.5 % compared to 10.6 % among men.

Besides, 53 % of working women have a higher education diploma, compared to 41 % of working men.

Nevertheless, in 2018, a woman earned an hourly wage that was on average 6.0 % lower than a man's hourly wage. And yet, Belgium performs better than most of the other European countries in terms of pay gap between women and men. Within the EU, the gender pay gap is 14.8 %.

Two women out of five work part-time

43.5 % of employed women work part-time in 2018. Only 11 % of men work part-time. In the sectors of accommodation and food service activities and human health and social work activities, more than half of the employees work part-time. Four-fifths time employment was the most popular part-time working arrangement, both for men and women.