Germany

aloisia schmid a-schmi at uiuc.edu
Thu Oct 9 21:29:44 EST 1997


In article <61jnvo$dlh at gap.cco.caltech.edu>, ravena at cco.caltech.edu (Karen
Allendoerfer) wrote:

> In article <Pine.OSF.3.96.971009103419.13591F-100000 at saul3.u.washington.edu>,
> E. Wijsman <wijsman at u.washington.edu> wrote:
> >I will second Kirsten's comments here.  I spent a summer in Europe in
> >1975, and ran into exactly the same behavior, and not just in one place. 
> >However, it was unique to Germany.  I spent time also in both Denmark and
> >the Netherlands on the same trip, and ran into no particular problems (so
> >I don't think it was just my age at the time). I was also totally shocked
> >at the behavior of the German males, which took me completely by surprise. 
> 
> My husband is German, and so I'd just like to say that there is at
> least ONE German male who isn't like this.  
> 
> I also spent a summer 10 years ago (in college) working in a
> lab in Germany, and wasn't harassed at all.
> 
> On the other hand, my husband and I have decided to settle in the U.S.,
> not Germany, and he is planning on eventually applying for his Green
> Card.  My perception is that women there have to deal with issues that
> women in the U.S. had to deal with 10 to 20 years ago.
> 
> I believe that even Christiane Nusslein-Vollhard, Germany's most
> famous (and deservedly so) woman-in-bio, has expressed frustration with
> how difficult it is for woman scientists in Germany.  I think she is
> either the only, or one of two, female Max-Planck-Institute directors.
> 
> There was an issue in _Science_ a couple of years ago about women 
> scientists in Europe.  One of the reasons it was so hard for woman
> scientists in Germany was the cultural bias against day care.  Countries
> like Italy with government-sponsored day care did better in providing
> a better work environment for woman scientists (although I personally 
> found Italy to be the country where I experienced the most casual sexual
> harassment while travelling--these things don't apparently correlate).
> 
> Karen


Yikes, does this all strike close to home!

My parents are both from Germany.  My dad is the most male chauvinist
misogynist you would EVER want to meet.  My mom is the most oppressed
woman you would ever want to meet.  And my experiences (and I would have
to say theya re EXTENSIVE!) with German men is that this is typical.  And
what is sad is that I don't think it is generational.  I think that the
incredible male ego is still alive and engrained in alot of German
cultural institutions today too.  

It would, I think, make for an intersting debate, but I have to admit that
after living with it my whole life, I don't know what to even suggest that
might move things towards progress.  It seems that even the most
enlightened German men that I know still manage to pass on to their sons
an amazing ego and chauvinism.  Actually, I suppose that is not entirely
true.  My mom's brother is the sweetest man I have ever met anywhere in my
life, and he has raised three sons who are every bit as wonderful as he
is.    My dad also has a little brother who is also sweet and wonderful,
but who is arrogant and domineering.  His sons are currently at the
university and are INSUFFERABLE.  His only daughter reminds me of me at
16.....scared of the universe.  

It is a horrible pattern that seems to be remarkably self-perpetuating.  I
would have to say American women are extremely lucky.  We have alot more
to accomplish, but we have come far!  German women who come to the US and
then go back to GErmany to work must have the most depressing experiences,
because they have developed a different perspective and have to go back to
operating within a very rigid and narrow-minded and bigoted structure.  

Alot of those Nobel Prize winning women in science we have been
considering had to put up with the most amazing crap in Germany.  It make
stheir achievements all the more remarkable in my mind.....


                                       Alice



More information about the Womenbio mailing list