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Women’s equality – through the ages. Diversity Management and Mainstreaming

von Stephanie Reiner (Autor)

Ausarbeitung 2013 30 Seiten

Frauenstudien / Gender-Forschung



1. Introduction

2. Theory

3. Hypothesis

4. Methods
4.1. Historiography
4.2. Statistics
4.3. Questionnaire

5. Results
5.1. Primary research - survey of students and passersby
5.2. Secondary Research - Federal Office of Statistics - birthrate

6. Discussion
6.1. Discussion of the historiography
6.2. Discussion of the questionnaire
6.3. Discussion of the statistic “birthrate” from the Federal Office of Statistics

7. Recommendations

8. Lessons learned

9. Summary

10. List of literature

11. List of illustrations

List of figures

1. Illustration 1: Helene Lange

2. Illustration 2: Gold Mother’s Cross

3. Illustration 3: Rubble women

4. Illustration 4: Women in the 50’s

5. Illustration 5: Women’s movement in the 60’s

6. Illustration 6: Women’s movement in the 70’s

7. Illustration 7: Alice Schwarzer

8. Illustration 8: Parent’s money

9. Graphic 1: Statistical information

10. Graphic 2: In your opinion are men and women equal?

11. Graphic 3: Do you think the opportunity of advancement in professional life is equal between men and women?

12. Graphic 4: Do you think that a legal women quota is useful?

13. Graphic 5: What is the first thing you feel with the term “emancipation”?

14. Graphic 6: What does “emancipation” mean to you?

15. Graphic 7: Do you think that companies should offer more for the compatibility between family and professional life?

16. Graphic 8: Do you think it is easy to arrange family and professional life?

17. Graphic 9: What do you think are the most useful changes in a company to support employed fathers or mothers to become more family-friendly?

18. Graphic 10: Do you think that women overtake men in the future regarding the career?

1. Introduction

“Men and women are equal” (article 3 Basic Law), in spite of this article women have a disadvantage in Germany in many matters - especially in their professional life. But the last century had a lot of changes.

For the 19th century it was believed that boys and men are “more valuable”. (Pawlak) This has been seen in their rights, because only men were allowed to go to election. (Spiegel) Women had no right to vote and could not study therefore not being able to graduate or get a degree from school. The male sex was considered to be smarter in several areas than women. Women’s work was expected to be cleaning, cooking, washing and baby-sitting. Not until the 1820’s, “girl schools” were introduced, but only for the higher classes of society. However, the goal of these schools was not for general education. The goal was to prepare women for the role as mother and housewife. Therefore, these schools taught mainly household topics. (Pawlak)

Not until the turn of the century, the suffragettes tried to fight for equality opportunities between men and women. (Vahsen, 2008) One of the most important suffragettes was Helene Lange. She took a stand towards a better education for girls and women. Consequently, girls were allowed to go to school but did not attend universities. (Wolff, 2009) There was only the exception of the so-called "auditor". The auditors were permitted to visit specific lectures in the university but they were not allowed to get a degree. By the end of 1909, women were allowed to study but the society did not agree with this change. (Pawlak)

In the Weimar Republic women had voting rights for the first time, meaning that women and men had basically the same political rights and obligations. That may be true, but there was no gender equality in other matters. (Schüler, 2008) However, 82 % of the women involved in the political process. Therefore, the women’s rights were introduced, for example the improvement of maternity protection. (Pawlak)

At the time of National Socialism, the politicians declined women from their voting rights. It was believed that women have no place in the men’s world. Also, the access to the university was severely restricted. For example, women could not study law. (Wagner, 2008) During this time, the role of women was to bear children and to take care of the household.

The government honored women who brought more than eight children into the world. The honor was called “Gold Mother’s

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Illustration 2

Cross”. At war it was important for the women to help survive the folk. That was the reason for the restriction of contraception and abortions which consequently brought death penalty. It should not be forgotten that many women were working because men were at war at that time. Later women had to support the military. (Pawlak)

After the 2nd World War women had to render heavy clearing work. They were called "rubble women". Subsequently, many women's committees and associations were established to increase the political commitment again. The members campaigned for women's rights. (Pawlak) And in 1949 they achieved to expand the Basic Law of the article "men and women are equal". (Schüller, 2008) In 1957, the Supreme Court stated that only the husband could be the head of education which means that only he has the eligibility of education. (Pawlak)

However, there was a regression to the 50’s again.

Many women returned to the traditional role because the idea of a family was one with many children. The women’s task was to faithfully take care of their children as a devoted mother and diligent housewife.

But how did it happen? Initially, the state tried to make the “mother role” tempting for women by means of perks. (Pawlak) However, the media had a big influence on the people. In this time a lot of publishing houses announced guides and newspapers for good housewives and mothers, for example “Housekeeping Monthly” or “Good Wife’s Guide”. The books describe how a good wife should act and behave. (housekeeping, 2012) Additionally, this change of traditional role
was showed in advertising. In commercials, the women had only two vital questions, “What should I wear?” and “What shall I cook?”. (Linda, 2009) A good illustration is “Pampers”. At first, the company tried to sell new diapers with the sales message: “If you buy our diapers you will have more time for yourself and will give yourself a treat”. Unfortunately, hardly any mother bought the new diapers until they changed their advertising slogan to: “If you buy our diapers you will be a better housewife because you owe your child a favor and you will also have more time for your family”. After this change of marketing strategy the sales went up because the women could identify their priority. (Rhein, 2011) This goes to show that women lived a traditional role. For all these reasons Germany had the baby boom. (bpb, 2012)

During the 1960s, there were more and more women who wanted to return back to work after their first child. They had the desire for good educational opportunities which develop into a profession. Nevertheless, these thoughts were not normal in society. (Strobl, 2011) In 1968, there was the year of emancipation that brought women’s protests and equality. Many young women occupied the streets as they wanted to stand for their political rights and fight against the grievances and the rigid gender roles. One goal was the equality between men and women because women needed their husband’s permission in many matters. (Pawlak) That is the reason why the husband had the power of final decision, for instance the children’s legal representation as well as wife’s occupation. (Frauenportal) The bond of marriage was considered as a sexual obligation. Therefore, the marital rape was not punished. Abortion on demand in unwanted pregnancy was enforced by the feminists. (FEMINISM) It must not be forgotten - the birth control pill was introduced due to this demand. It was a great relief for many women. As of now, they could decide when to plan for a baby. Thus, they gained more independence. On the downside, the birth rate fell significantly because of this change - the “baby bust”. (Pawlak)

In the 70’s, brought with it a new women's movement. “My belly belongs to me”, this sentence was often said in this time. It was used regarding the fight against the paragraph 218 - the abortion paragraph. (Strobl 1, 2011) Moreover, women were still in disadvantage due to many matters. As a result, more and more women's associations were established and the media reported a bit more about the situation of the female population. (Pawlak) With the help of publication, books and magazines were concerned about the situation. One of the most popular women’s magazines is EMMA, meaning em(m)ancipation. (Wiki) Alice Schwarzer, who is a German journalist, established and published this magazine. She is the best known representative of women’s movement and considered oneself as a feminist.


“Women should be allowed to think, without the need to apologize with a silly smile!” - Alice Schwarzer (nur-zitate)

At this point, women started considering life changing goals they wanted to achieve in life. It was believed that you are not born as a women, you are made to one. (Strobl 1, 2011) As late as the 1977, the state reformed the marital law and the family law. The couples have to decide by mutual agreement about the housekeeping and to be considerate of the occupation of the spouse. Before the “housewife-marriage” was valid, in other words the husband was responsible for the alimentation and the wife had to care of the family. In 1979, the policy introduced reforms of compatibility of maternity and professional life. Thereby, the maternity leave has been agreed, meaning six weeks before and eight weeks after the birth you can’t work as a pregnant woman. In addition, the maternity leave is paid by the state.

Not until 1993, justice between men and women was established in the Basic Law. The state promoted the actual implementation of equal rights for women and men and acted on the removal of the existing disadvantages. In addition, women's rights were protected. For
instance, the marital rape is punishable by law since 1997. (Pawlak)

However, women are still by far not equal in their everyday life. There are especially a lot of difference in professional life, for example lower salary and worse job prospects. The connection between work and family life is far from smooth. It is a women’s desire to have children, but they want to be independent and at the same time have a professional life. Many women don’t know how to be reconciled with their family and work which is why a lot of companies aren’t considerate for women with children. There are a lot of ideas to help working mothers. (Pawlak) One approach is that men should play a bigger part in children’s education. In 2007, the state introduced the parent’s money. The parent’s money is a transfer payment for families with little children that support them to save the basis of life. (N.N.,, 2012) The transfer payment is settled for the first twelve month of life of the child. The maximum of the parent’s money is 24 month. (Familienpolitik) The payment transfer gives the men also the opportunity to stay at home after childbirth. However, this is still a rarity that men stay at home after childbirth. Another idea is that companies have to change their views towards family values.

Even today, there are still many women who fight for women's rights and equality, in order to expedite further change. This year, there were discussions about women’s quota for companies in Germany again. For the simple reason that since many years the voluntary self­commitment did not change the situation and therefore the legal women’s quota is a better way to develop the equality between men and women.

2. Theory

Sex is a biological fact. If someone is a boy or girl, man or woman, will usually differ from each other from the external genitalia (penis or vagina). The external genitalia correlate almost perfectly with the chromosomal sex (XY or XY). (Stangl, 2009) This was the knowledge till 1960 in social science. The social science did not deal with the difference between sex and gender because they were not seen as a fundamental social category. In 1970s, the women’s movement gave the scientists a reason to reconsider. As a result, the social category of gender became a dimension of social organization. The difference between “sex” and “gender” is becoming increasingly importance. (Mag. phil. Marie-Claire Sowinetz, 2009) “Sex” means the biological aspects of maleness and femaleness. (Stangl, 2009)

Whereas “gender” implies the psychological, behavioral, social and cultural aspects of being male or female. It is the amount of expectations and imaginations which associate with femininity and masculinity. (Mag. phil. Marie-Claire Sowinetz, 2009) That means gender is defined as the sex role or a social role which depends on the culturally imprinted sex. (Stangl, 2009)

In the context of the rethinking process began the theoretical discussions about the gender identity. The irreversibility of gender role and the biological justification was raised to question. For centuries, the sex of a human pertained the reason for the gender role. Out of the knowledge about the biological difference they deduced the code of behavior for men and women. For example the men were valid to be the biological and physical “stronger” sex. The fact that the gender exists, was one of the reasons why the inequality between men and women looked unnatural. (Mag. phil. Marie-Claire Sowinetz, 2009)

Thereby, the gender identity and gender role play an important part. Gender identity begins with the knowledge and awareness, whether conscious or unconscious, that someone belongs to a sex and not the other. Gender Role is the outward behavior which someone shows in society. It is the role that someone plays, especially with other people. (Stangl, 2009)

As a result of the sex role we developed gender stereotypes which depend also on the culture. Gender stereotypes are cognitive structures which includes socially shared knowledge about characteristics of women and men. According to this definition gender stereotypes include two aspects. On the one hand the individual ownership of knowledge which every person has. And on the other hand gender stereotypes are the core of the culturally shared understanding of the typical characteristics of each gender. (Eckes, 2008) For instance the scientist Rubin interviewed parents at the day of the birth of their child. Fathers and mothers estimated the body size of a baby girl much smaller than a baby boy. Although the body size and the weight were not different. Parents have available an intensive-marked gender stereotype and a cultural-market opinions about the character of sexes. It depends on the expectations which they got in their education. These expectations have a strong influence on the perception of gender. (Stangl, 2009) One of the problems is that the concept of the stereotype is also frequently used in everyday language, whereby an exact definition is difficult. The delimitation towards to the terms prejudice and cliché is not always clear. (Mag. phil. Marie- Claire Sowinetz, 2009) Additionally, we associate negative feelings with these words. This comes to the stereotyped thinking. Stereotypes influence the perception and behavior unconscious. They have an implicit influence in professional action, for instance family law, career choice and personnel decision. (Smy, 2012)

These diverse discussions and approaches in the field of international gender equality politics developed to the topic gender mainstreaming. In the gender mainstreaming is geared to the equality of thinking and acting in the daily work of an organization. The goal of gender mainstreaming is the achievement of real equality between women and men in the sense of “article 3, paragraph 2 of the Basic Law”. (Genderkompetenz, 2010)

In the context of gender mainstreaming is often mentioned diversity management. Diversity management is a business strategy that has some similarities to gender mainstreaming, but also has difference. “Diversity” is usually translated with the term variety. Diversity refers to situations of people and describes their difference with regards to categories such as gender, ethnic and social origin, sexual orientation, religion and belief, age and physical and mental capacities. However, these situations do not relate only on difference, but also on inequality because distinctions are made between people in certain social relations and organizations.

Gender mainstreaming and diversity management have some similarities. The most important communality is that both strategies have the same idea of “problem groups”. They link to the potentials of people and not on deficits. The main point is that they do justice to people various needs, because all individuals don’t belong to just one group, for instance “women” or “men”. But rather all individuals belong to several groups at the same time, for example “German single mother” and “older person with disabilities”. Gender mainstreaming and diversity management are aimed to appreciate and promote the diversity of lifestyles. (Genderkompetenz, 2010)

Another very important term is “emancipation”. The word of Latin origin “emancipare” that means to become free or a slave who released to the freedom. (N.N.,, 2012) The term is often called as relief of groups which are discriminate because of their race, ethnicity, sexes, class affiliation etc. and to except from political decision making processes. Another explanation is the relief of a state of dependence or heteronomy. In the modern sense it also means the abolition of disadvantages. The women’s emancipation matters the dispensation with paternalism and the equality between men and women. (Ismail, 2012) The women’s emancipation was a movement which had the aim that women achieve the same rights than men. This term is not to be confused with feminism. The word “feminism” comes from the Latin origin “femina” that means women (N.N.,, 2012). The feminism is called as an ideology and a social movement which strives to the equality in all aspects of life. (freedictionary, 2009) It also means a change or repeal of the role allocation which expects a basically change of social standards. (bea, 2010) Another aim is that women have the same chance as men in professional life. (freedictionary, 2009)



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ISBN (Buch)
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Institution / Hochschule
Fachhochschule Amberg-Weiden
Gender Gleichberechtigung Women's equality


  • Stephanie Reiner (Autor)

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Titel: Women’s equality – through the ages. Diversity Management and Mainstreaming