German society has long shown little deference to women. It is not surprising that their position in most professions is poorer than in many other leading countries, which are also far from perfect. Prejudice and discrimination persist; low numbers of women hold places in boardrooms, most receive lower salaries and opportunities linger behind those of men.
Even though Germans grudgingly voted in a female chancellor in 2005, the personnel policies of the country’s major corporations still reveal a male dominated environment, especially concerning key positions. Many claim that women are not qualified enough in many career choices, others approve of positive action to raise their presence. For whatever reason, the facts speak for themselves with progression still excruciatingly slow, although there are nowadays a few more women in government positions and DAX listed firms than only a a decade ago
Old ladies are invariably surprised though seemingly pleased and sometimes highly charmed when a man holds the door open for them at a department store or supermarket. Naturally most people can be as polite as, say, the British. A more general lack of manners on the streets is not due to rudeness but rather timidity; it certainly has nothing to do with gender equality: Germany maintains a cultural legacy of an underlying chauvinistic society.
Yet deep-rooted patriarchy seems also to exclude younger males in comparison to many other countries. Even younger ministers of the German government in Berlin have in recent years faced a barrage of verbal attacks and character smears by aged and respected members of society and the media.
Reactions to feminist actions are still profound. Only recently the courts have ruled positive action in politics to be unconstitutional. Cronyism is still rife within party politics and at times in the upper echelons of the corporate world. Perhaps women are simply not interested in signing up to such traditional male attitudes, preferring live life according to their own principles. Many examples in Germany and other countries reveal the benefits. Time will tell.