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Anti quota

March 8, 2011

Is state regulation necessary to ensure that there are enough women in the top jobs? Andrea Jung-Grimm doesn’t think so. She says that it would divert attention from the real problems facing women in the workplace.


The idea of companies being legally-required to have a certain number of female employees in the top jobs sounds tempting. It would definitely be a cheap and practical option. But it's by no means a complete remedy for the problems experienced by women in the workplace.

More than half of university graduates are female. Generally speaking, they are not only better qualified than men, they also qualify earlier. This has been achieved without the help of a quota.

However, women make up between just 3.2 and 10 percent of executive and supervisory boards of Germany’s top 200 companies.

Deutsche Welle's Andrea Jung-Grimm
Deutsche Welle's Andrea Jung-GrimmImage: DW

What is it that prevents young women with good degrees from climbing the career ladder? The answer is well known, it's the family. Balancing a career and children is still very difficult in Germany. Women who want to work and leave their children in day care are often labeled bad mothers. A quota won't be able to solve either of these problems.

With the help of the state, society's attitude to working women needs to change. Women who want to achieve something in their professional life don’t need quotas. They need flexible childcare centers and schools which offer extra-curricular activities. Women need to have the power to achieve their professional goals and not just settle for part-time jobs. That’s assuming they are even lucky enough to have one of those! After all, no one can honestly claim that a part-time job is compatible with a senior position.

Adequate child care is expensive though and the quota doesn’t cost a penny. Politicians are using the quota debate to distract from the actual problems facing women and are absolving themselves - as so often - from their responsibility to society.

Lastly, women could also help themselves if they simply took a leaf out of men's books and networked to actively promote their careers. Women should remember that they don’t need to be ashamed of their ambition. But that's another story ...

Author: Andrea Jung-Grimm / cp

Editor: Rob Turner

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