German society has long shown little deference to women, whose position in most professions is poorer than in many other leading countries. Prejudice and discrimination persist; low numbers of women hold places in boardrooms, most receive lower salaries and opportunities linger behind those of men.
Even though Germans grudgingly voted in a female chancellor in 2005, the personnel policies of the country’s major corporations see to it that women are kept in their place, which is definitely not in key positions. Many claim that women are not qualified enough, others approve of positive action to raise presence. For whatever reason, the facts speak for themselves with progression still excruciatingly slow, although there are nowadays a few more women in government positions and DAX listed firms.
Old ladies are invariably surprised though seemingly pleased and sometimes highly charmed when a man holds the door open for them at a department store or supermarket. Naturally most educated people can be as polite as, say, the British. A more general lack of manners on the streets is not due to rudeness but rather shyness; it certainly has nothing to do with gender equality: Germany remains a profoundly chauvinistic society, a cultural legacy.
Yet deep-rooted patriarchy seems also to exclude younger males in comparison to many other countries. Even younger ministers of the German government in Berlin have in recent years faced a barrage of verbal attacks and character smears by aged and respected members of society and the media.