In Germany, men and women are equal before the law. However, it has taken a long time for this to become a reality in everyday life. Since the 1960s, several generations of women have fought for equality and emancipation, leading to many barriers being torn down that previously made it hard for girls and young women to determine their own futures. By way of example: in Germany today just as many young women complete high school as do young men. The picture is similar in higher education, where half of all students in Germany are women.
Things are not quite so balanced between the sexes when it comes to the choice of subject. Most significantly, young men are traditionally more interested in the so-called STEM subjects, which are defined as science, technology, engineering, and maths. However, these days around 29 percent of students in STEM subjects are female, whilst in medicine 65 percent of all students are now women. In the veterinary sciences, the figure is as high as 85 percent. To give another example: at the Lufthansa Group, of 5,500 pilots, 300 are women.
Although more and more women work in professions that require academic qualifications, in the job market men still have better chances of climbing the career ladder. The higher you go in management, the fewer women there are. Only 21.4 percent of the members of the supervisory boards of publicly-listed companies – which monitor the actions of the executives – were women in June 2015. This is set to change: from 2016 there is to be a minimum quota of 30 percent women on the supervisory boards of 108 publicly listed corporations. If the company cannot find a woman to fill the role, then the position remains vacant.
Alongside this women’s quota, there are further regulations aimed at promoting equal opportunities in the job market. One example is a quota for the integration of disabled people: employers who have over 20 employees must allocate five percent of their jobs to severely disabled people.