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How women live and work in Germany

The gender pay gap and a quota for the proportion of women: the gender equality debate in Germany. A reality check in figures.

Christina Iglhaut, 04.03.2022
How many women live, work and are in government in Germany?
How many women live, work and are in government in Germany? © Nicolas Hansen/iStock/Getty Images

Three facts about women in Germany: they account for the majority of the population, live longer than men – and are better educated.

Women in society

In all, around 42 million women live in Germany – roughly one million more than men. While men live on average to the age of 78.6, the life expectancy for women is around 83.4.

On average, women have their first child at the age of 30. Statistically speaking, women have 1.53 children each, meaning that the birth rate – after rising briefly between 2014 and 2016 – has declined for the fourth year in a row. This birth rate puts Germany on a par with the EU average.

Women in business

Be they entrepreneurs, company directors, scientists or experts, women play an important role in German business. According to figures published by the Federal Statistical Office, Germany has the third-highest rate of female employment in the EU. In 2019, 76.6 percent of women aged between 20 and 64 were in gainful employment. The male employment rate is around 84 percent.

As far as their earnings are concerned, there is an imbalance between men and women. The gender pay gap was 18 percent in 2020. Even if structural differences such as part-time work are discounted, women still earn six percent less than men in comparable positions and with comparable qualifications.

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Women in management positions

Women in Germany are very highly educated: more than half of those with the Abitur (Germany’s university entrance qualification), around 50 percent of university graduates and around 45 percent of doctoral students are female. According to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, management positions are nonetheless filled primarily by men: 88.4 percent of university professors are men. In 2022, the number of female board members in the 160 companies listed on the DAX indices increased within one year by 20 to 94 top managers.

Another positive development: since 1 January 2016, a law has required 30 percent of vacant supervisory board positions in around 100 large companies to be filled by women.

Fränzi Kühne: the youngest female member of a supervisory board in Germany

Women in politics

Germany currently has its most female cabinet to date. 50 percent of the ministers in the governing coalition’s new cabinet are female. At the start of the previous legislative period, only 30.7 percent of the members of the German Bundestag were female, whereas now the figure has at least climbed to 34.7 percent. And for the first time in the history of the Federal Republic, a woman – namely Annalena Baerbock – is the country’s foreign minister. 

Annalena Baerbock
© picture alliance / photothek

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