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German gender gap 'widens despite talk'
Photo: DPA

German gender gap 'widens despite talk'

Published: 24 Oct 2012 11:30 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Oct 2012 11:30 GMT+02:00

Germany is faltering in its attempts to improve equality between men and women in the workplace, falling from 11th to 13th place in the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual Global Gender Gap Report.

Although German politicians have talked a lot in recent years about increasing gender equality in many areas, particularly the workplace, this has failed to create much headway, Die Welt newspaper said on Wednesday, noting the WEF study.

Germany was 7th place in the world for gender equality in 2007, but slipped to 11th in 2011 and down to 13th this year in the gender equality index of 130 nations, which is consistently topped by Scandinavian countries.

The report, which judges nations on criteria such as equal access to education and health, wage equality and representation in political institutions, ranked Finland 2nd in the world, Norway came 3rd , Sweden 4th and Denmark 7th. Iceland came in first place for the third year running.

The results show that despite all the talk, Germany has failed to be as proactive as Scandinavia in promoting equality, wrote Die Welt. Germany rates well in terms of equal access to health and education, but continues to fail on female political representation and equality of pay.

The OECD says Germany has the largest pay gap between men and women in the EU, the paper said. A woman working full time earns on average almost 22 percent less than a man, compared with a EU wide average gap of 16 percent. Germany also rates badly with a well-reported lack of women in leadership positions.

"Germany could learn something from the Nordic countries, which have for decades been pursuing proactive policies for more equality," WEF economist Margareta Drzeniek Hanouz told Wednesday’s Die Welt.

Norway for instance, which came 3rd in the ranking, introduced a compulsory women's quota of 40 percent on the supervisory boards of stockmarket-listed companies several years ago - with much success, wrote the paper.

Yet Germany continues to drag its feet over recent plans to introduce a similar women's quota in management, with both Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and Family Minister Kristina Schröder opposing an European-wide move.

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Your comments about this article

13:52 October 24, 2012 by yllusion
I find this a difficult topic. When you establish quotas you are preventing a system based purely on merit, which in principle is the fairest. Equality should be equality of opportunities, not equality of results. Each individual would be responsible for his/her accomplishments. On the other hand, in our modern society which has grown with men at the forefront and women on the sidelines, we could claim that in order to solve an imbalance we have to enforce a temporary opposite imbalance, towards the other end, in this case by implementing quotas, in order to reposition women in our society. Man and women are different and they have different aspirations and different qualities, and therefore we will never have 50/50 distribution in every type of job. Before complaining that there are less women in this or that field, we have to ask what is the percentage of women actually aspiring to work in those fields. If we have 10 women applying for a job and 90 men applying for the same job, enforcing a 40% quota for women is clearly unfair. What we have to guarantee is that people have the same opportunities, and then they will have to compete with each other for the jobs on fair ground. That is how the ideal world should be.
15:23 October 24, 2012 by yourkeau
" When you establish quotas you are preventing a system based purely on merit"

System which discriminates women and pays them less, is not based on merit.

"Equality should be equality of opportunities"

There is no such equality.

"If we have 10 women applying for a job and 90 men applying for the same job, enforcing a 40% quota for women is clearly unfair."

It is the system which discourages women from applying for the job which leads to this result. Once the equality is enforced by quotas, the number of applying women will grow accordinly.

"Man and women are different"

No, they are not. People are different, but gender plays no role in that.
17:03 October 24, 2012 by pjnt
@yllusion,

Pretty much agree with your interpretation.

@yourkeau....

The current system has elements which discriminates against women, yes, but that is the problem we are trying to address. A system purely of merit is the goal. You quote the problem as the cause to the solution. Makes no sense.

Same issue with your equality statement. We want equality and are trying to get to that goal. Stating there are not means nothing.

In some fields I agree that the quota will help qualified women, and aspiring individuals to pursue their goals in fields currently women free. That said, this will only work in certain circumstances and looking at where women would like to work would be a much better gauge at setting quotas to the arbitrary magic numbers pulled out of some politicians arse.

Really? Last I checked men and women are different physically and probably because of hormonal differences, emotionally, and I know many who are adamant women are very different socially. The differences can be used as strengths or weakness depending on the person. But we are different.
17:04 October 24, 2012 by mfharis
I prefer merit based appointment and representation rather than Quota System what Norway have implemented and made Economist so proud to discuss here as an example. However, the pay gap of 22% is unwelcome and our counterparts should be given their fair share.
22:04 October 24, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Really? I always found it that German women wore the trousers in Germany. At least at home anway.
08:22 October 25, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ yllusion

I like your approach and balanced opinion. I wish there were more posts like yours on TheLocal.

"Man and women are different and they have different aspirations and different qualities." - I agree. I would add that, while average physical parameters are more or less a give, the way we structure our society shapes men and women's aspirations (actually their cthinking in general). So if we want more gender balance, we should start with revising our mentality (see the Barbie model pushed to little girls).
09:13 October 25, 2012 by pjnt
Really? Oh, yah, perhaps they do. Doh!
11:18 October 25, 2012 by yllusion
@yourkeau

You clearly didn't understand my point. Please read my comment again without bias.

"System which discriminates women and pays them less, is not based on merit."

I didn't say that our current system is fair, I'm saying that the way we are trying to fix it isn't fair either.

I said that "Equality should be equality of opportunities" and you replied: "There is no such equality." Yeah, but *that* is the fundamental problem that we should have been focused on solving! If we solve that problem, we won't need quotas. If you say that there is not such equality but you remain with your arms crossed, prefering the quota system, you just want to take advantage from it instead of solving the problem.

"It is the system which discourages women from applying for the job which leads to this result. Once the equality is enforced by quotas, the number of applying women will grow accordinly." Tell me why in the universities we see a clear majority of men or women in fields such as mechanical engineering and humanities. The answer is obvious.

I said that "Man and women are different" and you said "No, they are not. People are different, but gender plays no role in that." And I tell you that you are making a big mistake. We are equal in the sense that we are human beings, two components of a race. We have the same level of importance, but we are not equal, we are complementary. Men and women sit on the two oposite plates of the balance. Observe nature and you will see how male and female have different roles in life, and both are necessary. Many studies have already addressed the differences in thinking, in response (mental and emotional) and in solving tasks between men and women. We are different in many aspects, physically, biologically, mentally, emotionally. We do things differently, we want different things. That is how nature works. Denying that is banging your head on the wall. We have to recognise that we are different, and accept that male and female have different and equally important roles in nature. Therefore we deserve the same amount of respect and oportunities. Equality and respect aren't the same thing.

For your information, and to give you an evidence of what I am talking about, read this http://www.thelocal.de/article.php?ID=45767#comment2896836
13:09 October 25, 2012 by yourkeau
"We have the same level of importance, but we are not equal, we are complementary. Men and women sit on the two oposite plates of the balance"

Nonsense.

"Observe nature and you will see how male and female have different roles in life, and both are necessary."

Nonsense again. As far as I know, nature hasn't got computers and internet. You can continue your "nature" thinking and write the same nonsense about races, sexual orientation etc.

"We are different in many aspects, physically, biologically, mentally, emotionally. "

Yes, we are. Gender plays no role in that.

" We have to recognise that we are different, and accept that male and female have different and equally important roles in nature. "

Yes, as a male you want discrimination to continue. As I male, I don't, and here is the difference between us, and gender plays no role in that.

You guys, cannot object that quotes work. They are simple and they work. After 100 years we can lift the quotas, as they will be no longer needed.
18:17 October 25, 2012 by ChrisRea
Here is an interesting experimental project: "Gender Bias Fought At Egalia Preschool In Stockholm, Sweden" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/26/gender-bias-egalia-preschool_n_884866.html

For those understanding German, here is a newer article with more details: http://www.zeit.de/2012/34/C-Schule-Kindergarten-Schweden

I would say something like that has a significantly bigger impact than quotas.
11:48 October 26, 2012 by yllusion
@yourkeau

Quite frankly, you are completely biased to the point of refusing to process counter-arguments supported by logic and actual facts. I give you reason and you return belief.

What is your definition of gender? It is not just a tag, it's not just a side note about the characteristics of an individual.

If we were equal, we would be exactly the same machine, from the biological point of view. We are not. Male and female bio-chemistries are not the same, their machines or bodies work differently, they have a different balance of chemicals inside which control how the body develops and how they respond to physical, mental and emotional stimuli. If that wasn't so, there wouldn't be this division between male and female, we would all be androgenous. So, this is irrefutable. From this point on, it is obvious that men and women will not live in the same way. Common sense already shows you that. Observation of family and communities show you that. Observation of history shows you that. Scientific researches show that. Simply google it.

But I've been stressing that although the fact that men and women are different, no one is better than the other. How can you say that I want discrimination to continue if I myself am telling you that that is wrong! It's not possible to carry out a constructive debate with your level of discernment.

Your argument about having computers and internet is simply out of context. Humans have machines because we are able to rationalise. This ability exists in both man and woman, but it doesn't make man and woman the same. Many animals are able to do complex work, build nests and so on. It is their level of complexity and still, male and female have clear distinct roles in their lives. And this is how they survive and remain in balance. Male and female are very important to each other. That is nature!

It is dangerous when we fix ourselves to certain ideas to the point of not being able to rationalise because of belief, i.e., when we *want* something to be true instead of searching for the truth. Feminism blinded some people. Both extremes are wrong.
16:00 November 2, 2012 by tara_wells
Quota system does not work but education is. Everything should start from home that both son and daughter have the same opportunity be it in scholl or workplace. Merit and education are very important in choosing executives, secondarily, you also need to look at other backgrounds.
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