Germany

Sylvia Becker becker at usm.uni-muenchen.de
Thu Oct 16 04:40:28 EST 1997


On 15 Oct 1997 14:16:09 GMT, Karen Allendoerfer <ravena at cco.caltech.edu> wrote:

: There is no UU in Germany, in fact, most Germans don't attend church
 : of any sort.  My father in law was really curious about it, especially
 : because we had a UU wedding ceremony, and he had never seen anything
 : like that before (he would have expected us to get married in a 
 : "Standesamt"--like a courthouse--in Germany).  
Many Germans have two weddings:  one in the Standesamt and one in Church.
The point is that as opposed to Britain, for instance, representatives of
any church are not registrars(sp?).  Thus, the Standesamt bit consists of
the legal aspects of getting married, that's the contract that has to be
dealt with in the case of a divorce.  The church wedding as such has no
legal import and in fact in order to get married in church you have to
provide the document from the Standesamt that you are legally married.
That's the German attempt at keeping religion and state affairs separate as
our constitution requires.

: 
 : What I was wondering, especially from any Germans who might read this,
 : was what positive forces exist in Germany to make things better for
 : women scientists in particular and women in general.  I have seen a
 : feminist magazine called "Emma" that I've read and enjoyed.  And I also
 : know a female professor in Cologne who has two kids and a physicist
 : husband who works at home and looks after them!  She is really great . . . 
 : I know she's an exception and had to work incredibly hard and put up with
 : a lot to get where she is.  There's also a mailing list called
 : "biofrauen," which I read occasionally to practice my German.  
 : 
Yes, there are things happening here, too.  Some universities are trying to
get more women into the science and engineering subjects and have long term
studies as to what can help women and what is currently harming/discouraging  
them.  I attended a fantastic conference along those lines a few years ago.
Also, every faculty (and every official institution)has to have a women's
representative (the ombudsperson mentioned by Sabine) but her powers are
very limited.  In fact I have been the representative for our faculty for
two years which was fairly time consuming, sometimes frustrating because
there was no way to get past the interests of a bunch of professors who have
made up their minds but provided me with a bit of insider information for
what I want to do.  On the other hand, if I had concentrated on my research
instead, I personally would be better off (as is the case with any such
"job"...).  Again, as Karen said, Bavaria being very conservative is
probably one of the worst places to be as a working woman, further north
things are better.  Childcare is a big problem anywhere, though and the
current government won't do much to change that.  Remember, a
stay-at-home-mum does not show up in the unemployment figures and they are
uncomfortably high as it is - anything to make them look not sooo bad! 
 
I agree that most women activist work is coupled with environmentalist
issues but I think that is partly becaus both issues are approached by
politically left wing groups which tend to have a different view concerning
equality than the more right wing conservative forces... 
What I mean is that any women's movement at the moment is not so much due to
women who are asking for their rights but is heavily scented with other
political issues, it is not a course on its own and therefore not terribly
efficient and successful on women issues as such.  (Sorry, this all reads
very confusing, I hope it makes sense).
Also, the government has created all these alibi positions (the ombudswomen
and a few changes to the phrasing of some rules/laws) to claim that
something is being done but the women just don't make use of what is offered!

  On the other hand:  yes, out trains and buses are on time and you can get
round Munich on a bike with very few problems...

   Cheers
   
      Sylvia

-- 
Dr. Sylvia R. Becker                  |  Phone:  +49 89 922094 39
Universitaetssternwarte Muenchen      |  Fax:    +49 89 922094 27
Scheinerstr. 1                        |  e-mail: becker at usm.uni-muenchen.de
D-81679 Muenchen, Germany




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