Gender Roles in Economics

The constitutions of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland forbid any discrimination in the job market (including the armed forces in Germany since 2001) because of gender; however, differences still exist. In particular, qualified women experience an "invisible glass ceiling" at some time in their thirties or forties, and their career advancement stops. Because lower positions in the corporate hierarchy receive proportionately lower compensation, the "glass ceiling" means that women in West Germany earn about 78% of the gross salary per hour that men receive. In the former Communist East Germany, where many more women held full-time jobs and where they were paid equally before the Union, their salaries are now about 90% of those of men. The average income for women in all of Germany was 2297 Euro (about the same in US dollars) in April 2002, which is 21% less than that of their male counterparts. Although the proportion of female professors at German universities increased in the 1990s, they still constitute less than 10% of all professors. Only 5.9% of university professors of the highest and best-paid rank are women. Even if they work outside the home, most household tasks are still performed by women.

There are clear preferences in occupations that require training. Women prefer jobs that require mainly "soft" skills such as office administrator, retail saleswomen, hairdresser, doctor's receptionist, dental nurse, and industrial manager. Men prefer jobs that require predominantly manual skills like motor vehicle mechanic, painter, electrician, carpenter, cook, and metalworker. At university, women prefer humanities and social sciences, and men prefer natural sciences. Law, economics, and medical courses are gender equal.

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