Gender-Coding Professions In Germany
October 15, 2005
Shelley Olson asked
if and how German women achieved more equality in sports.
Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about that subject.
I do know that there are three notable areas where German women have long
excelled: politics, medicine, and law. They
were very present in these professions long before women in the
made similar gains.
The Socialists (the
mainstream left party in
) and the Greens strongly encourage women to participate in their parties.
The Greens even mandate that 50% of their party representatives be women.
This supportive climate for women in politics is why
will soon have a woman Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
She is the head of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party, but
a woman Chancellor is a woman Chancellor.
Every culture seems
to have its own approach for gender coding professions.
Women in medicine and law have long been accepted in
. I have an interesting book about
women in the Third Reich. Even then
women were encouraged in these professions -- though the Nazi rationale seems
almost ludicrous. Men were
categorized as "warriors," while women were seen as healers (for
warriors) and as mediators (between warriors.)
Professional women were treated very badly in most other ways during that
There are some
limitations. I think that close to
half the doctors in
are women, but very few are in leading positions in large hospitals.
Even though the country will have a woman Chancellor, women leaders are
often rejected in many areas of life. Women
comprise only about 1% of the CEOs and corporate boards in
-- as in most of continental
Women are just now
reaching the 10% level as professors in
had a very aggressive women's politic. In
the mid 1980s, women comprised 50% of the East German workforce, but only 16% of
the personnel in its orchestras -- exactly the same percentage as in highly
. For some reason, music has always
had a very specific and strong macsuline gender coding in the Geman-speaking