By GIANINA SCHWANECKE, DER SPIEGEL (Opinion)
“Children, kitchen and church,” this is the motto by which German women lived their lives until the feminist movements of the last century helped transform male dominated career and see more women move into the workplace.
German women are now more free to participate in the political realm and rate highly in regards to educational attainment. In spite of this progress, women in the modern German Republic are still beholden to values which prioritize “duty” to the family over pursuit of a career.
This relates to an imbalance in the distribution of household labor that results in unpaid and underappreciated work.
Women provide crucial services in their unpaid toiling. Cooking, cleaning and caring for children are just a few examples of the work we women do. Increasingly many women now belong to the sandwich generation and are not only caring for young children, but are now also tasked with caring for elderly parents and parents-in-law. This trend should be especially alarming for those in countries like Japan and Germany, where a declining overall population has shifted age demographics.
While menial household tasks are taken for granted, a study published in Time Magazine found that if women were paid for household work and familial care, they would contribute $100 trillion (US) to the global economy.
Meanwhile, gender inequality also pervades the workplace. Women in Germany on average earn less than 23 percent of what male coworkers earn. Equally alarming is the disparity between power in the workplace, with women holding only 27 percent of all top-management jobs.
Women are often employed in industries “suited” to traditional notions of gender. Most women work in the social-service industries, and most men in manufacturing or construction roles.
These blatant examples of gender inequality speak to much larger societal issues; such as the belief that men are more valuable to society than women.
Many countries have responded to growing disparity through funding and educational opportunities. Germany has established initiatives which encourage women to move out of the kitchen and into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. While our Scandinavian neighbors are praised for having moved closer to gender equality, the German wage gap remains one of the largest in the European Union.
Women tasked with caring for house and home (The Huffington Post)