Working women in Germany

Dougherty, Er.,DE,Diagnostics DOUGHER1 at
Fri Jun 7 02:42:35 EST 1996

As an American working in Germany, I can whole-heartedly agree with the 
women who have posted here about the difficulties of combining career and 
children in Germany. When I first came here two years ago, I found the 
attitudes almost impossible to believe! Meanwhile, I'm getting used to them. 
It has been hard to walk the fine line of living and working in a foreign 
culture and not wanting to expect it to be like it is at home; on the other 
hand, I don't just want to accept comments and attitudes that I think are 
    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

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.

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.)

These problems occur in the context of a society who has pigeonholed women 
into the mother-and-caretaker role so successfully, I just can't believe 
that (as another poster joked) it will be better in ten years! Everything is 
stacked against women who want a full-time career: from the store hours 
(only till 6 or 6:30 on weeknights, and then only Sat mornings on the 
weekends) to the motherhood-leave laws that guarantee you a job after you've 
stayed home for 3 years. I was actually in a meeting where the director said 
"we are absolutely not going to hire any more pre-menopausal women!" It is 
just too difficult for the company to have to keep these open positions for 
so long.

Any suggestions?



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