Gender equality

Today’s women’s rights are the result of a centuries-long process of emancipation – on the one hand as female liberation from traditional role patterns, lifestyles and prejudiced stereotypes, and on the other hand as a struggle against male supremacy and the oppression of women in society and the state. Women have been z. B. only in 1909 in the whole of Germany admitted to study – in 2006 in the European Union 59% of the university graduates were women. In Germany and other developed industrialized countries, the role, self-image and living situation of women in the 20. Jh. fundamentally changed.
In the Federal Republic, gender equality is enshrined in the constitution as a fundamental social principle. In the family, the equal, partnership-based division of tasks has not yet been achieved, the woman’s responsibility for the household and raising children still dominates.

Gender equality

Gender equality

Changes in gender relations

In the Federal Republic, gender equality is constitutionally enshrined as a fundamental social principle.

"Men and women are equal."
(Art. 3 Abs. 2 GG)

Since legal equality alone was not enough to achieve actual equality in practice, the Basic Law was further supplemented in 1994.

"The state promotes the effective implementation of equal rights for women and men and works toward eliminating existing disadvantages."

  • besides equal rights and duties for men and women,
  • Prohibitions on discrimination,
  • Equal opportunities and
  • Reduce social injustices in society.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the new women’s movement developed in the 1970s from impulses of the student movement and parallel to other new social movements, such as the environmental or civil rights movements.

The women’s movement criticized. a. the dominance of the masculine form in the language and fought for the linguistic representation of women (citizens, citizens). Currently, gender-neutral formulations are increasingly preferred, such as "professional" instead of "expert" or "students" instead of "students".

The new women’s movement advocated equal rights and opportunities for women and men in all areas of life – equality between men and women – a. Central goals were:

  • equal access to education, training, all professions, positions of power and decision-making, in order to establish equal participation in the structures and institutions of politics, the economy and society;
  • equal gender relations and the abolition of the traditional division of roles and labor in the family;
  • Recognition of women’s specific interests, needs and points of view as well as creation of autonomous free spaces.

The demands of the women’s movement have largely changed the social reality in Germany in continuous processes of discussion and negotiation and have brought about numerous advances in terms of equal rights:

  • The majority of women’s and men’s self-image was determined by the claim to equality carried.
  • Typical Girls’ or. Boys’ socialization were significantly weakened (the norm of equal treatment of the sexes dominates in the style of upbringing).
  • men’s and women’s ideas about the future and orientations with regard to Family and career orientation and partnership have largely converged.
  • The dominance of typically masculine and feminine life patterns and roles were abolished, a modernized gender relations, more choices for women (family, children and/or career) and more diverse forms of sexuality.
  • educational status and opportunities have equalized, as has the level of education of women and men (partly better educational qualifications of women).
  • The female gainful employment has increased, which also refers to more professional and influence opportunities for women in society, the economy and politics.
  • The legal bases of equality were changed, z. B. through reforms of marriage, family and divorce law, a continuous equality policy is pursued.

The position of women in the GDR

In the GDR, too, equal rights for men and women were enshrined in the constitution. In the GDR, the principle was that gender equality was reflected in the occupation of men and women and in equal rights and obligations of spouses in all matters of cohabitation (occupation, household management, child rearing). However, the implementation of this goal differed considerably from that in the Federal Republic of Germany, where the traditional bourgeois family and women’s model dominated in the 1950s and 1960s.

According to the principles of ideology and state policy in the GDR, the most important prerequisite for the social, economic and political liberation of women was their integration into the world of work. The goal was to fully involve women in gainful employment (full-time occupation). State policy was therefore directed at creating conditions for reconciling work and children. This was combined with systematic and active promotion of women and families, u. a. through:

  • state childcare facilities,
  • special achievements for mothers,
  • career advancement measures.

This policy resulted in progress and deficits in the practical equality of women. On the one hand, compared to the Federal Republic

  • developed a higher level of education, training and gainful employment for women,
  • on the other hand, women also received lower pay,
  • they had fewer career opportunities, and
  • more part-time employment than men,
  • there were few women in senior positions and influential management functions.

The proportion of working women with children was high, but the gender-specific division of labor in the family persisted to the greatest extent possible and tended to Double burden on women through gainful employment and family work.

Inequalities in the labor market

Despite the successes of the women’s movement and the guarantee of equal rights in the Basic Law, and despite the fact that the level of education and training of men and women has meanwhile been equalized, there still remain in the Federal Republic of Germany Social and political disadvantages for women persist to this day, especially in the labor market and in the family. This also applies to the countries of the European Union.
With the Amsterdam Treaty in 1999, the European Union’s gender equality policy was given a legal basis. However, the concrete measures are regulated nationally in the individual European countries (z. B. women’s advancement, equal opportunity officers).

European Union
(25 member states, excluding Romania and Bulgaria)

An important Cause of these inequalities lies in the limited career choices of young women, who are less interested in technology-oriented, scientific and innovative professions in growing industries of the future (z. B. new technologies) decide. Young women and men still predominantly choose "women’s" or "men’s" jobs. "men’s jobs". Statistically, jobs are "women’s" or "men’s" if 80% or more of them are women or men, respectively. Men occupying gainful positions in a particular occupation.

typical "women’s jobs typical "male professions
professions in the fields of education/ pedagogy, health, social welfare
(z. B. kindergarten teacher, nurse, geriatric nurse), office and retail (sales staff), cleaning sector
Occupations in the fields of technology, electronics, mechanics, engineering and construction, mechanical engineering
(z. B. (e.g., automotive mechanic, industrial mechanic, computer scientist, engineer), natural sciences, transportation, education and training

The distinction in "Women’s and men’s occupations" is also based on traditional role models about gender-specific "suitability" for certain professions (physical and intellectual abilities, social skills). Many activities in typical "women’s occupations" are similar to unpaid activities in the private household (housework, child rearing, care). They are often less socially recognized and lower paid.
A major cause of inequalities in the labor market is the unequal distribution of tasks within the family.

Inequalities in the family

In the family, the equal division of tasks between partners has not yet been achieved; the woman’s responsibility for the household and raising children still dominates.
On the one hand, women’s gainful employment has become a matter of course; on the other hand, women continue to assume responsibility for family and children. Possible consequences or threats are:

  • a Double burden on women by family work and professional activity (stress, high coordination effort);
  • Conflicts due to conflicting models of "good housewife and mother" and "successful, working woman" (neglect of mother role or career orientation);
  • Reduced time flexibility and reduced job performance (part-time jobs, "career breaks," interruptions in employment, limited opportunities for advancement)
  • higher risk of dismissal, Material insecurity, poorer chances of employment due to possible motherhood, more difficult return to work after the family phase;
  • lower pension entitlements.

Reconciliation of family and career remains a women’s problem. The rising labor force participation rate of women is already having a significant impact on the birth rate in Germany. On average, women are having fewer and fewer children at an increasingly older age (low birth rate).

In Germany, to reconcile work and family life, most women choose the "Three-phase model":

  • Working until the birth of the first child,
  • Family phase,
  • Return to gainful employment.

In the acquisition phase, they mainly opt for Part-time work, which however Fewer opportunities for advancement and career advancement offers. In contrast, most men use the employment-centered life course model (professional career and full-time position) and presuppose family work and child rearing in the responsibility of women.

The majority of women are oriented towards the image of the modern, emancipated woman. Aspects of the traditional image of women (z. B. Mother role) are combined with new values, such as career orientation, new pedagogy in raising children. Although the majority of men accept the new role of women, they themselves are still predominantly oriented toward the traditional male role model, which is reflected in z. B. in the low take-up of parental leave shows. In addition, politics and the economy, especially the world of work and careers, are still oriented toward male patterns of life and behavior.

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