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GERMAN BRIEF: WOMEN

There was no

Angela-Merkel effect

German women disadvantaged

July 2023: Since the 1970s, Germany has made progress in many areas of gender equality. However, the country is still far behind many of its European neighbours. Even during the Angela-Merkel era, the number of women in leadership positions in politics, business and industry has hardly increased.


In many areas of life, women are structurally disadvantaged because of their gender. In society, the ‘traditional’ distribution of roles has been promoted for decades and is only slowly changing. Women are still disadvantaged in their career choices and at the work place. They earn less than men for the same work and at home, whether they have children or not, women are expected to carry out most of the domestic chores.


Yet their educational qualifications equal men's. A quarter of both men and women have gained university entrance qualifications (Abitur). In 2021/22, the proportion of women among students at universities in Germany was around 50.2 per cent.


Female employment has changed significantly in recent decades. Since the 1970s, the employment rate has risen continuously. The share of women in employment across all occupational groups was 48.4 per cent in June 2021. The proportion of women was highest in education, social services and domestic occupations.


Women are underrepresented in technology and engineering.


Overall, the female employment rate was 74.7 per cent in 2019. In 2021, the unemployment rate for women in Germany averaged 5.4 per cent. The rate had fallen continuously since 2005 and reached its lowest point in 2019.


On average, women still earn less than men for comparable work and take on much of the unpaid domestic, child-rearing and care work. In 2021, average gross monthly earnings of a full-time female employee in Germany were €3,700. Although earnings have risen continuously, the earnings gap between men and women (gender pay gap) in Germany was still 18 per cent in 2021.


Sources: Statistisches Bundesamt, Ifo Institut, Statista. Most data relates to 2021 and 2022


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