Thirty Years of Gender Quotas in Germany: Policy Adoption between Mainstreaming and Minimal Compliance
31 Pages Posted: 27 May 2015
Date Written: 2015
This paper reviews three decades of gender quota policies in Germany and assesses policy adoption in parties, public administration, as well as on corporate and public boards. Germany was an early adopter of quotas for women in political parties and in public administration. Even though both measures were controversial when first enacted in the 1980s and early 1990s, they have since become rather low-profile gender equality strategies. A recent initiative to adopt quotas for women on corporate and public boards, by contrast, produced substantial public discussion. The mainstreaming of positive action plans in public institutions that include decision quotas, fixed quotas and goal quotas has given gender advocates formally strong leverage to advance a gender equality agenda. At the same time, a culture of minimalist compliance has pervaded the public sector and parties. Male institutions and organizations tend to exhibit more passive resistance than vocal opposition, thus making it difficult for feminists to engage effectively with non-compliance. A lack of sanctions as well as intricate strategies to circumvent quota decisions add to a sense among German feminist activists that quotas are one, but by no means the only strategy for gender equality in public life.
Keywords: Germany; quotas; gender equality; corporate board quotas; gender equality law
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