Before you begin working your way to foreign language fluency, it helps to understand the culture behind the language you’re learning. After all, language exists to help a group of people express their ideas and beliefs. Germany is an old country with a rich history and culture. As you begin your German language program, gaining a strong grasp on this history, the values, and the etiquette will help you rapidly achieve success. In particular, Germans value women and their role in society there is still some debate about whether or not women should move past traditional roles.
The phrase “Kinder, Küche, Kirche” means “Children, Kitchen, Church” and sums up the traditional role of the German mother. As in other Western countries, that role has changed radically as more and more women have full-time jobs outside the home. Women can now choose between having a career or being a “Hausfrau” (“housewife”) who tends the home, children, and any elderly relatives in the home.
Women who decide to become “Hausfrauen” and make raising children their business are treated with great respect. There are regional differences in attitudes towards women in the workplace, especially between West and East Germany. In what used to be East Germany (GDR), women received a lot of government support, including free child-care facilities. Since unification, however, women no longer receive such services. Women in the eastern states are also much more likely to be unemployed than women in the western states.
While there is still a lot of debate over whether women should work full time or not, many women are deciding to do just that. Many women now both run their households and work full time in factories or offices. The pay gap in Germany between men and women is one of the highest in Europe: Women earn 22 percent less than do men with equivalent jobs.