Working women in Germany

Sarah L. Pallas spallas at bcm.tmc.edu
Fri Jun 7 16:31:54 EST 1996


In article <4p8mhb$n53 at mserv1.dl.ac.uk> Dougherty,
DOUGHER1 at MSMBWMA.marburg.hoechst-ag.d400.de writes:
>    I would appreciate anyone's advice on how to answer the following:
>
>1. People who think it is "abandoning your children" if you work while
they 
>are young

Perhaps the best defense is a good offense.  See the book "Remaking
Motherhood", which suggests, as do several more recent publications, that
good daycare is much better for children than staying at home, they get
socialized faster and they become more intelligient for their age because
they are constantly being challenged to learn.  Ask them how, in light of
this information, they can justify not putting their kids in daycare. 
Also point out that the German economy ain't what it used to be, and it
would be silly to waste the productive capacity of half the population.
>
>2. Interview question (absolutely standard here) about how you plan to
raise 
>your family while working full-time. The implication here is that it is 
>impossible to do this without harming your family or your work.

Tell them your mother will take care of the kids, or your husband's
mother, or whatever, or tell them your husband will stay at home and
raise their eyebrows.  Or tell them you intend to send the kids to camp
until they're 18. ;-)  (an option I've been considering lately while
going through the terrible two's with our son).  Ask them whether they
consider it a problem for a father to work.
>
>3. Inappropriate jokes, etc. at work. Recently, one of my colleagues was 
>given a toothbrush that looks like a naked woman as a birthday present.
I 
>said that was inappropriate and left the room, but since then get teased 
>about being "too sensitive". (I am the only woman in my area, and one of
the 
>only two women in R&D in the whole company.)

You can ask any other women in the organization if they also object,
and/or ask a sympathetic male (if there is one) to back you up next time
it happens.  Tell them you don't consider yourself too sensitive, it may
be a cultural difference, but nonetheless it bothers you, and they have
two choices as your coworkers.  They can continue to bother you with such
objects and tease you when you object, and risk offending you and
damaging the working relationship, or they can act like adults and
consider your feelings; whether they agree or not that your feelings are
appropriate is irrelevant- you object to the behavior and therefore if
they want to do the right thing they will stop the behavior.

Good luck, remind me not to do a sabbatical in Germany!  I hope the job
is worth the aggravation!

Sarah Pallas



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