Gender equality in Germany is 10th best worldwide

Gender equality in Germany is 10th best worldwide

More women in politics, but still not enough in business. Germany is making progress in gender equality - rising four places to position number 10 in the latest Global Gender Gap Report - but there’s still plenty of work to be done. 

Global Gender Gap Report 2020

Every year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) examines the positions of men and women worldwide to compile their Global Gender Gap Report - a benchmarking of 153 countries on their progress towards gender parity in four dimensions: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment. 

This year, Germany managed to improve its position to 10th overall - but in reality, there’s been little improvement. When the report first appeared in 2006, Germany was in fifth place. According to the WEF, if things improve at the same pace as they did last year, it will take 99,5 years to achieve gender parity. 

Germany scores well on female political participation

Gender equality has advanced in Germany this year primarily because of the greater political participation of women. While Angela Merkel still occupies the post of Chancellor, 40 percent of ministerial posts in federal and state governments have been filled by women, and 30,9 percent of parliamentarians are now women. 

However, the main reason why Germany doesn’t perform better is that the economy lags behind in international comparison in terms of equality. In most other countries where there is a high proportion of female politicians, there is also a high proportion of women in high-powered jobs. In Germany, this is not the case. 

Accordingly, in the “Economic participation and opportunity” category, Germany only achieved place 48, dropping 12 places from last year. The two main problems are that men still earn much higher salaries and hold more managerial positions than women. In the “Gender pay gap” category, Germany ranks 68th and only 89th in “Global economic power sharing”. 

“Germany is still very much behind,” said WEF researcher Roberto Crotti. “What is interesting is the fact that women have almost equal participation in the labour market in Germany, but they cannot make it into positions of power and cannot command the same salaries.” 

Social norms to blame for gender injustice

Crotti says that social norms are partly to blame for injustice, such as the expectations that neighbours and families have of women - which perhaps explain why so few men take advantage of Germany’s relatively generous parental leave

According to the WEF’s data, women also spend at least twice as much time caring and volunteering - leaving less time for them to invest in their careers. In Germany, women spend 60 percent more time than men doing household chores and caring for children. 

Politicians also have a part to play in tackling some problems, such as access to childcare. “But if you look at the countries in which the economy is more open to women than Germany, I see that responsibility lies above all with the companies,” Crotti said. 

Top countries worldwide for gender equality

Once again, this year’s Global Gender Gap Index Ranking was topped by Iceland - for the 11th year in a row. It is followed by fellow Nordic countries Norway, Finland and Sweden. Spain also made a dramatic entry into the top 10, rising 21 positions since last year’s ranking. 

The top 10 countries were as follows:

  • 1. Iceland
  • 2. Norway
  • 3. Finland
  • 4. Sweden
  • 5. Nicaragua
  • 6. New Zealand
  • 7. Ireland
  • 8. Spain
  • 9. Rwanda
  • 10. Germany

You can read the full report on the World Economic Forum website.



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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