Female Quota. The German Discussion

Term Paper, 2019
23 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of contents

List of figures

List of abbreviations

1 Introduction

2 Female Quota – A blessing or curse?
2.1 Definition
2.2 The historic milestone
2.3 Reasons of the underrepresentation
2.4 Central theme of politics

3 Germany in European Comparison – Top or Flop?
3.1 Status Quo
3.2 European overview
3.3 The Norwegian model - A possibility for Germany?

4 Conclusion



List of figures

Figure 1: Aspects of the underrepresentation of women

Figure 2: Share of women in supervisory boards

Figure 3: Women's share in management positions in 2017

List of abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1 Introduction

The general discussion on occupational gender equality has increasingly shifted in recent years to the equality of women in management positions. After many years of resistance despite growing political pressure, the entry into force of the Law on Equal Participation of Women and Men in Leadership positions in the Private and Public Sector on 1 May 2015 created a key element of equality.1 But the legal quota is still controversial. It has become a focal point for the question of how to replace legal regulations for enforcing professional equality through voluntary agreements and voluntary commitments. This essay, therefore, deals with the question of why the female quota as a legal measure to promote equality is still so controversial after the introduction of the law.

This seminar paper is first of all devoted to the definition of the "women's quota" (gender quota), which is important to understand the existing problem. This is followed by an insight into the years of development of the above-mentioned law in connection with women's work through the ages. Women are still represented less frequently than men, especially in the higher management positions (eg Executive Board, Board of Directors, Supervisory Board). To clarify the background, the causes of the underrepresentation of women in management positions are analyzed. In the following section, reasons for the recurrent discussions about the women's quota are explained. It also addresses conflicts of interest within politics and economy.

The third chapter is mainly about the female quota in Germany with current figures and compared to Europe. In addition, the Norwegian model is analyzed as a possible option for Germany.

The gender stereotypes hindering the rise of women in leadership positions and the various corporate cultures are not discussed in detail due to the size of this essay.

2 Female Quota – A blessing or curse?

2.1 Definition

"Quote" originally comes from the Latin language and means "share".2 Accordingly, a quote describes the percentage proportion of a whole.

The word "woman" describes a gender that serves as a criterion for the classification of individuals (female and male) within a society.3 In relation to the rate for women in governing bodies, this means the proportion of female leadership positions in relation to the total number of existing management positions.4 As a result, the current state can be determined, which also enables comparisons.

As the proportion of women in leadership positions has been at a low level for many years, the law on equal participation of women and men in executive positions in the private and public sector was adopted on 6 March 2015 after an intensive discussion phase.5

The aim of the law presented by the „Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz (BMJV) and the „Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend“ (BMFSFJ) is to significantly increase the proportion of women in management positions in order to achieve gender parity. Since January 2016 the fixed female quota of 30 percent has been applied to newly appointed supervisory board positions in listed and co-determined companies. All other companies are required by law to set their own targets.6 As a result, the statutory provisions only apply to listed and co-determined companies belonging to the „Deutscher Aktienindex“ (DAX). Currently, there are 104 publicly traded companies in the number (reference date 14.01.2018).7

2.2 The historic milestone

By the end of the 1960s, the topic of "women and women's work" was seen as secondary. In the following years, 1970 to 1980, a focus was placed on the scope, achievements, and suffering of women. Ulla Knapp (former Professor of Economics at the Hamburg University of Economics and Politics) conducted an analysis of women’s work. The focus of her analysis is on the processes of women's work between 1850 and 1933. It showed that the industrial revolution and the resulting changes in the world of work had a significant effect on the employment rate of women and that in some cases a shift- specific, far-reaching displacement of women from the job market took place. With the onset and progression of the Industrial Revolution, especially in the mid-19th century, the shift-specific inner-family division of labor changed above all. Likewise, a change of housework took place. If this had been done especially by the bourgeoisie by female domestic workers, increasingly developed the model of the unemployed housewife and mother, who was now responsible for the free housework. At this time, a role model of the woman as a housewife and mother had already consolidated.9

Knapp describes that the beginnings of the war times of the First World War (1914-1918) led to a short-term high female unemployment since women at that time were mainly active in the textile industry and this was mined in favor of the war industry. After the conversion of industrial capacities for war purposes, female participation increased to 50 percent. However, this employment rate did not remain stable after the end of war, so women fell prey to the politically motivated displacement from the labour market.

In addition to general access restrictions to many areas of work, women also faced significant pay discrimination. Because they were denied access to training, they could only accept work for unskilled workers.10

Under the regime of National Socialism, the image of women as a spouse, housewife, and mother led to a reduction of partricipation in employment particularly of women, especially among married women.11

With the entry into force of the first Gender Equality Act of 1958, husbands were no longer able to terminate the employment contracts of their wives on their own initiative, but women were still dependent on the husband's consent to employment. The reform of vocational training and the entry into force of the Vocational Training Act in 1969 also improved educational opportunities for women.12 "Wir wollen prüfen, ob die Situation der Frauen durch ein Antidiskriminierungsgesetz verbessert werden kann.", said the former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in his policy statement on 24 November 1980.13

In the following years, the trend towards increasing female participation persisted. Especially in the years 1980 to the turn of the millennium, the rising qualification level of women became noticeable. Women were strong in vocational training and were able to overtake men in general education.14

The cross-party "Nürnberger Resolution", calling for a quota model, was signed in March 2009. It also required further measures such as defined qualification standards for male and female members of the Supervisory Board. Through Germany-wide activities, numerous supporters were gained to sign the resolution and to work for the realization of the quota.15

In December 2011 the „Berliner Erklärung“ called for a statutory 30 percent quota for listed, co-determined and public companies.16

In their coalition agreement after the general election for the 18th legislative term, the CDU / CSU and SPD agreed in November 2013 on a legal regulation on the quota. Supervisory boards of listed companies should have a gender quota of at least 30 percent from 2016 onwards.17

As a result, the „Bundesfrauenministerium“ drew up the bill for the equal participation of women and men in executive positions in the private sector and in public service. In January 2015, the bill was introduced into the Bundestag and finally decided on 6 March. On first of May 2015 with effect from the first of January 2016, the quota law came into force.18

2.3 Reasons of the underrepresentation

The previous research on the underrepresentation has focused mainly on individual, sometimes different aspects of the causes. Thus, the explanation of the underrepresentation is based on two theoretical approaches that have developed and consolidated in parallel within research and public discussion. On the one hand, companies and their internal structures are blamed for the lack of prospects of advancement opportunities of women. On the other hand, a theoretical approach is based on structural barriers that are decisively grounded in politics and society.19

In the following, political, socio-cultural as well as economic and operational factors will be explained.

Figure 1:Aspects for the underrepresentation of women in management positions

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Own presentation based on: Kaup J. (2015}, Die Unterrepriisentanz. von Frauen in Führungspositionen,Page 44

Political factors

The potential of women is well-known, yet most of the skills and resources remain untapped. Equality policy in Gennany has for a long time prevented the equal participation of women in working life, so that it took decades before the female employment rate reached approximately the male quota.20

ChangesIn the legalbasis for equality often only changed as a result of outside pressure, for example through directives of the ..Europaische Union• {EU) or women's movements.21

For a long time, gender equality policy has manifested a role model of women, which is subordinate to the man. At the same time, as women's equal rights were strengthened, family and work policies again shaped the role model of women as mother and housewife. Significant monetary incentives, in particular, motivate mothers to stop working after giving birth to a child. Expanding part-time work and prolonged career breaks make it much harder for women to progress on their career.22


Role images and stereotypes have a negative impact on women's chances of promotion prospects in different ways. In this context, stereotypical expectations and opinions about female characteristics and behaviors, in particular, play a crucial role as they deviate from the ideal of leaders. This mismatch leads to women being perceived as less competent in leadership positions. In particular, the difficulty for women lies in balancing the fulfillment and non-compliance of their role models and stereotypes. Still, women are shown to be less competent and dependent on men. In doing so, role models are already being imparted to children through media, which not only influence the expectations of the behavior and characteristics of others, but also have an impact on their own self- assessment regarding personal talents, abilities, and opportunities.23


Economic and operational factors highlight the potential for disadvantaging women in companies. A number of partial aspects such as framework conditions, corporate structures, performance evaluation, promotion of women and the reconciliation of work and family life are to be taken into account, which influence and hinder the advancement of women into higher management positions. This again shows the influence of stereotypes, which in particular have an effect on the framework conditions such as the corporate culture.24


1 Cf. BMFSFJ (2017), https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/service/gesetze/gesetz-fuer-die- gleichberechtigte-teilhabe-von-frauen-und-maennern-an-fuehrungspositionen/119350, accessed on 08.01.2019

2 Cf. Schülerduden,

3 Cf. Ostner (2001),

4 Cf. DIW Berlin (2018), https://www.diw.de/de/diw_01.c.412682.de/presse/glossar/frauenquote.html, accessed on 08.01.2019

5 Cf. BMFSFJ (2017), https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/service/gesetze/gesetz-fuer-die- gleichberechtigte-teilhabe-von-frauen-und-maennern-an-fuehrungspositionen/119350, accessed on 08.01.2019

6 ibid.

7 Cf. Schulz-Strelow (2018),

8 Cf. Richter/Schraut (2010), pages 730-737

9 Cf. Knapp (1983a),

10 Cf. Knapp (1983b),

11 Cf. Kaup (2015),

12 ibid,

13 Cf. BMFSFJ (2016), https://www.bmfsfj.de/quote/zeitstrahl.html, accessed on 08.01.2019

14 Cf. Kaup (2015),

15 Cf. BMFSFJ (2016), https://www.bmfsfj.de/quote/zeitstrahl.html, accessed on 08.01.2019

16 ibid.

17 Cf. BMFSFJ (2016), https://www.bmfsfj.de/quote/zeitstrahl.html, accessed on 08.01.2019

18 ibid.

19 Cf. Kaup (2015),

20 ct. Kaup (2015),

21 ibid.

22 Cf. Kaup (2015),

23 ibid,

24 ibid,

Excerpt out of 23 pages


Female Quota. The German Discussion
Verwaltungs- und Wirtschafts-Akademie München e. V
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
female, quota, german, discussion
Quote paper
Franziska Friedl (Author), 2019, Female Quota. The German Discussion, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/473791


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