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Quota for women on company boards

The Federal Government has agreed legislation on a women’s quota for boards of directors. Find out more about gender equality here.

Jennifer Wagner, 26.02.2021
Roughly one in three senior managers in Germany is currently female.
Roughly one in three senior managers in Germany is currently female. © picture alliance / Zoonar

The number of working women in Germany is rising – but only slowly: in 1999, the proportion of female employees was just under 44%; in 2019, it was 3% more. There also continue to be inequalities in incomes: the adjusted gender pay gap in 2019 was 19% – this is the percentage by which women’s average hourly earnings were lower than men’s. However, roughly three-quarters of this income difference is structural in nature, because women often work in more badly paid sectors and occupations. Nevertheless, even under comparable conditions, women earn roughly 6% less than men. Three questions and answers on equality in the workplace:

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How does government policy support women’s employment?

Examples here include parental leave and parental benefit, which support mothers’ early return to work. Mothers and fathers receive payments from the state for a specific period if they do not work because they look after their baby. However, usually mothers take a significantly longer period of parental leave. Many men only spend two months at home – the minimum period required to be entitled to parental benefit.

What is the situation in company boardrooms?

According to the Federal Statistical Office, nearly one in three executives is a woman. The Federal Government considers this proportion too low and at the beginning of 2021 initiated a law to introduce a women’s quota. It stipulates that boards of directors with more than three members must have at least one woman in future. Furthermore, board members will be allowed to step down temporarily to take maternity leave or parental leave.

What role is the coronavirus pandemic playing?

Closed childcare centres and schools are making it necessary for someone to look after children at home – and, as studies have shown, this task is usually performed by women. This has led to a debate about reversals in equal rights. “We are experiencing an appalling retraditionalisation,” wrote sociologist Jutta Allmendinger, for example, in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. She has observed “a distribution of roles corresponding to that in the generations of our parents and grandparents”. Other researchers, however, anticipate improvements after the pandemic: increased flexibilisation resulting from working at home will make it easier to reconcile having a family and a career.


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