{[ promptMessage ]}

Bookmark it

{[ promptMessage ]}

Bennhold_TheFemaleFactor

Bennhold_TheFemaleFactor - The Female Factor In Germany a...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
January 18, 2010 THE FEMALE FACTOR By KATRIN BENNHOLD NEUÖTTING, Germany — Manuela Maier was branded a bad mother. A Rabenmutter, or raven mother, after the black bird that pushes chicks out of the nest. She was ostracized by other mothers, berated by neighbors and family, and screamed at in a local store. Her crime? Signing up her 9-year-old son when the local primary school first offered lunch and afternoon classes last autumn — and returning to work. “I was told: ‘Why do you have children if you can’t take care of them?”’ said Ms. Maier, 47. By comparison, having a first son out of wedlock 21 years ago raised few eyebrows in this traditional Bavarian town, she said. Ten years into the 21st century, most schools in Germany still end at lunchtime, a tradition that dates back nearly 250 years. That has powerfully sustained the housewife/mother image of German lore and was long credited with producing well-bred, well-read burghers. Modern Germany may be run by a woman — Chancellor Angela Merkel, routinely called the world’s most powerful female politician — but it seems no coincidence that she is childless. Across the developed world, a combination of the effects of birth control, social change, political progress and economic necessity has produced a tipping point: numerically, women now match or overtake men in the work force and in education. In the developing world, too, the striving of women and girls for schooling, small loans and status is part of another immense upheaval: the rise of nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In both these worlds, women can remain trapped by tradition. Now, a social revolution — peaceful, but profound — is driving a search for new ways of combining family life and motherhood with a more powerful role for women. Westerners are quick to denounce customs in, say, the Muslim world that they perceive as limiting women. But in Germany, despite its vaunted modernity, a traditional perception of motherhood lingers. The half-day school system survived feudalism, the rise and demise of Hitler’s mother cult, the women’s movement of the 1970s and reunification with East Germany. Now, in the face of economic necessity, it is crumbling: one of the lowest birthrates in the world, the specter of labor shortages and slipping education standards have prompted a rethink. Since 2003, nearly a fifth of Germany’s 40,000 schools have phased in afternoon programs, and more plan to follow suit. “This is a taboo we just can’t afford anymore; the country needs women to be able to both work and have
Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
children,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the German labor minister. A mother of seven and doctor-turned-politician, she baffles housewives and childless career women alike, not to mention many men in her Christian Democratic Union.
Image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern