Every 1 in 10 women experience sexism in the German workforce

Sexism is still a big issue in workforces in Germany. According to research by Intelligence Group,  a whopping 11% of women have experienced sexism in the workplace. Moreover, women in Germany earned 18% less per hour than their male counterparts in 2022.

Victoria Egba on December 12, 2023 Average reading time: 4 min
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Every 1 in 10 women experience sexism in the German workforce

New research from Intelligence Group shows that Germany still has issues of sexism. Data was collected every quarter from a total of 5,593 Germans in 2023 from the working population. It showed that sexism is the highest form of discrimination they experience in the workplace. Despite having made progress in gender equality and benefits that are the envy of many other countries, Germany has struggled to achieve gender equality in its job market, particularly in managerial positions.

Sexism against young German women?

According to the research, a total of 4% have experienced sexism in the workplace (man and woman), but a whopping 11% of women experience it. Historically, women in Germany have borne the brunt of workplace sexism. Although Germany has implemented policies to address this issue, women still earn less on average than their male counterparts for the same work.

Research from Destatis estimated that, on average, women in Germany earned 18% less per hour than their male counterparts in 2022. Pre-tax, the mean hourly wage for men was €24.36 ($25.94) across all industries, whereas women earned €20.05 ($21.35).

A decade ago, only 58% of women were employed, compared to 63% in the United States and 70% in Britain. Now, data from Statista shows that around 73% of women are employed either full-time or part-time in Germany. There is improvement, however, sexism still prevails.

On average, women in Germany earned 18% less per hour than their male counterparts in 2022.

Factors contributing to this wage difference include occupational segregation, differences in career advancement opportunities, and the disproportionate burden of unpaid domestic work borne by women. These factors not only affect women’s financial well-being but also contribute to a lack of economic independence.

Moreover, women’s underrepresentation in leadership positions remains a substantial concern. The “glass ceiling” effect is evident, as women often encounter obstacles when trying to advance to executive and managerial roles. Women continue to be a minority in corporate boards and top management teams, which hampers their influence and decision-making power in the corporate world.

10% of German’s Gen Z faces discrimination on gender 

The research findings show notable generational differences in experiencing gender discrimination within the German workplace. The data revealed that younger Germans, particularly those under 30 years of age, are significantly more likely to encounter gender discrimination compared to their older counterparts. An alarming 10% of individuals under 30 reported facing such discrimination, whereas this figure declined to 8% among those aged 30 to 50. Remarkably, only 4% of individuals above 50 years reported experiencing sexism in the workplace. The lower percentage of those 50 years or older is likely due to the changing attitudes and the way different generations view sexism.

Younger individuals are more aware of gender issues and may spot subtle sexism that older generations cannot.

Changes in cultural norms have made behaviours once acceptable by those over 50 sexist for younger generations. Moreover, younger generations are often more attuned to issues of gender equality and are more likely to identify and report instances of sexism. The rise of social media and movements like the #MeToo movement has empowered young people to speak out against discrimination and harassment, making it increasingly visible.

Furthermore, as society evolves and becomes more aware of gender-related issues, younger generations tend to be more conscious of the importance of diversity and inclusion. They are more likely to challenge traditional gender norms and advocate for a fairer, more equitable workplace. Older individuals may have grown up in a different cultural and societal context where gender roles were more rigid and less questioned.

The legal sector has the highest gender discrimination in Germany

18% of Germans in the legal sector attest to experiencing gender-based discrimination in the workplace. The legal sector has the highest rate of sexism, followed by the Social/Societal sector (15%) and personal services (14%).

The persistently high rate of sexism within the legal sector is concerning but not entirely surprising, given the glaring lack of gender diversity. A recent study by Legal 500 highlights this issue, revealing that out of a total of 437 lawyers achieving recognition as Leading Individuals in the latest guide, a mere 63 are women. In terms of percentages, this translates to women constituting just 13% of Germany’s most recognized private practice legal experts.

The persistently high rate of sexism within the legal sector is concerning but not entirely surprising

The gender representation gap persists even in the Next Generation Partners category, which generally comprises solicitors with less than five years of experience at the partner level. Only 34 of the 134 Next Generation Partners are female. Although the current 25% representation is an improvement over the 13% in the Leading Individuals category, it highlights the persistent difficulty in advancing women to partner positions in German law firms.

On the other sectors with high sexism, the Social/Societal sector often deals with complex societal issues and human interactions, which may contribute to instances of sexism. There’s also the historical underrepresentation of women in leadership roles within social and societal organizations that could perpetuate gender disparities.

The personal services sector encompasses roles such as hairdressing and beautician services, where personal interactions are central. The sector is known to typically face challenges due to traditional gender norms and expectations tied to appearance and beauty.

Customer focused sectors have less discrimination

In Germany, the tourism, paramedical, and marketing industries all stand out for having remarkably low levels of gender discrimination, each reporting only 3%. These sectors prioritize a strong customer-centric approach, which extends to the well-being of both employees and customers. Their emphasis on equality is rooted in the pursuit of customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, they foster inclusive cultures that encourage respect and open-mindedness. In the paramedical sector, the commitment to strict ethical standards, a notable female representation, and a collaborative work environment contribute to this low level of discrimination. In the marketing industry, the emphasis on creativity, teamwork, and proactive measures challenging gender stereotypes helps create a work environment where gender discrimination is less likely to occur.

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