Interesting outsider's perspective. Friend of mine just got her first kid, and after her paid maternity leave she'll switch to working part-time (4 days a week). Also an interesting comment on the difference between The Netherlands and something like Silicon Valley over at HN:
First off there are two ways to spin this: 1) women are less emancipated in NL because they participate less in the workplace or 2) women are more emancipated because they are able to choose to participate less in the workplace.
I first thought #1 was true, but I'm seeing a lot of new fathers taking advantage of Dutch part-time rules by taking a day a week off to participate in child care. So maybe instead of the measure of emancipation being women's values aligning with traditionally 'male' ones, maybe it's that male values are aligning with traditionally 'female' ones.
Subjectively I can also ay that the Dutch workplaces I've had the pleasure to experience are both more healthy and more 'efficient', and my previous experience has been exclusively in hard-working silicon valley. Plans are important, meetings are avoided unless necessary (and have agendas!), and there is a focus on getting stuff done so that people can leave at six and be with their families. Overtime is a sign that something has gone terribly wrong, and nobody bothers you while you're on your vacation. This culture allows part-time work to be an option... that is, a 32/36/40-hour contract is actually meaningful.
At my previous jobs in the US I wouldn't even think about reducing my hours... a 32 vs 40 hour contract is pointless if you're expected to work 50-60 hours a week, better to take as much money as you can.
I would love to work part time. 5 days of the week is simply too damn much!