It is common knowledge that indigenous men generally have a better position in the labour market than women and ethnic minorities. This study deals with the question why this is the case in certain sectors of the Dutch economy. The text discusses the labour market attainment for women and ethnic minorities in economic sectors where they are underrepresented. In each of the sectors construction, IT and printing we have evaluated five hypotheses regarding the opportunities of access into and promotion within labour markets for the particular occupations of carpenters, software engineers and printers. We have selected the health sector and the occupation of nurses, as a contrasting sector where women outnumber men in absolute terms. Our hypotheses deal with the following issues: education and training; wage-setting; recruitment and selection; social benefits and active labour market policies. The study arrives at a conclusion about the differences in the factors explaining gender and ethnic segregation. The study is based on a literature overview, interviews with key informants and small case studies in 48 enterprises and organisations. This report includes the national overview for The Netherlands of the research project ‘Overcoming marginalisation’ that was funded under the fifth Framework by the European Commission. The research was executed simultaneously in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. The international comparison and our comparative working paper on good practice examples will be published separately.