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Women are heading for the top

How does Germany support career opportunities for women? Five facts you ought to know.

Nicole Sagener, 30.07.2018
Women are catching up at work – but there is still much to be done.
Women are catching up at work – but there is still much to be done. © dpa

They assume leadership positions less frequently, earn less and take part-time jobs more often: women continue to have a more difficult time at work than men – in Germany too. Yet many advances have been made in recent years, says the OECD approvingly. More women work, the proportion of women on supervisory boards has risen and parents can better reconcile family and working life. Five facts about women and work:

1. More working women

Since German reunification in 1990 the proportion of working women has increased by 15%. According to figures published by the Federal Employment Agency (BA), roughly 71% of women in Germany have a job today – almost 10% more than the average for OECD countries.

2. Return from part-time to full-time work

Almost half of the women in employment work part-time. Among men the total is only 12%. Only a slightly reduced working time has a detrimental effect on career opportunities. That is why the Federal Government wants to introduce so-called “bridging part-time work” (Brückenteilzeit) in 2019. This will give employees the right to work part-time for a period and then return to full-time employment.

3. Children and career

Germany’s parental allowance has two positive effects: it makes it easier for working women to decide to take a baby break and improves the division of labour between women and men when it comes to childcare. Since 2007 , parents have received state payments for 14 months to make up for lost income if they both take a break from work for their family. An analysis by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) has confirmed the scheme’s success: 35% of men now take parental leave, compared to only 3% in the past. Since 2013, parents have also had a legal right to a childcare place for children over the age of one.


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4. Women’s quota and pay transparency

In 2016, Germany introduced a women’s quota for supervisory boards: 30% of the members of these bodies must be female. An evaluation by American human resources consultancy Russell Reynolds found that the proportion of women on the supervisory boards of the largest German corporations was 34% in spring 2018. Women can now also discover whether they are at a disadvantage compared to their male colleagues when it comes to salaries. Since 2018, employees have had the right to receive information on this subject from their employers.

5. Maths and technology campaign

Since subject choice at university determines later career opportunities, various organisations and initiatives – for example, the German Association of Women Engineers – support women in mathematics, informatics, natural sciences and technology (MINT).