German gender gap ‘widens despite talk’

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.

German gender gap 'widens despite talk'
Photo: DPA

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.

The Local/jlb

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