Leading from Behind? Gender Equality in Germany During the Merkel Era

Petra Ahrens, Phillip Ayoub, Sabine Lang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Whilst maintaining its status as an economic engine in Europe, Germany has historically been a laggard in adopting gender equality measures. The European Gender Equality Index, however, now ranks Germany relatively high and shows substantial progress since 2005. While this has gone mostly unnoticed, Germany has passed far-reaching legislation in major policy fields relevant for gender equality. This expansive policy adoption occurred during the chancellorship of Angela Merkel, but we still know little about the actors and processes that explain it. The divergent perceptions of Germany in relation to gender invite deeper scholarly investigation. In general, we lack knowledge about how conservative women and their parties lead on gender policy. More specifically, we need to know more about how policy measures introduced by conservative governments affect gender norms and gender culture, and if they ultimately lead to effective implementation and greater equality. Investigating the effects of Merkel's tenure on gender equality, we assess policy output and outcomes with a focus on internal power dynamics in Germany, as well as international and EU-level pressures in the policy domains of political representation, LGBTI rights, migration, the labour market, and care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Early online date29 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • gender equality
  • Angela Merkel
  • Germany

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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