The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index ranks Germany on place 13 and France only on place 46 out of 134 countries, suggesting that gender equality is by far more advanced in Germany than in France. A closer look at the gender gap subindexes reveals that Germany is doing better particularly in terms of gender wage equality. Also,in Germany more women are represented in parliament and in ministerial positions than in France.
However, concluding that women are generally less discriminated in Germany than in France would be rather premature, as the Gender Gap Index does not allow a deeper insight in gender differentials of labour market outcomes. Only the gender gap in general labour force participation is taken into account. The labour force participation -subindex shows the same score for Germany and France. Actually, in France as well as in Germany, there has been a massive entrance of women into the labour market since the 1970s, and today women’s global employment rate is somewhat above 60% in both countries.
Yet, female employment has developed very differently in the two countries: The full-time equivalent employment rate for women (15-64 years) is 53% in France against only 45% in Germany (Eurostat 2005). This difference is caused by the fact that in Germany, female employment consists to a larger extent of part-time work and precarious employment than in France. 45,5% of German women work part-time, versus only 29,4% in France (Eurostat 2008). Concerning part-time work, the contrast between the two countries is greatest between mothers. The percentage of part-time working mothers whose youngest child is below the age of six is 59,3% in Germany, opposed to 27,9% in France (OECD 2002).Moreover, fertility rates in Germany are much lower than in France. The average number of children per women (aged 14-49) in Germany is 1,4 against 2,1 in France (INSEE 2007).
The significant differences in mothers’ full time employment and in fertility rates suggest that combining work and family is much more difficult for women in Germany than in France – a dimension of gender equality that is not taken into account by the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index.
More information about the Gender Gap Index:
Interesting, how enormously the countries’position in gender equality rankings varies, in particular Germany’s! It obviously depends all on how gender equality is measured!
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