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Ageism and sexism in Germany

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Hello. I'm 24 old woman. I plan to start a cs degree and maybe considering work in Germany in the future. I've read Germany is a strict when it comes to age and women face discrimination due to pregnancy risk and are expected to stay at home after  having had kids.It is really so bad?

 

Also, do you think the IT is a good choice, or would advise another engineering route?

 

Thanks.

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Ageism is live and well. I recently met a guy on a project who told me he wasn't hired for a job that fit his experience like a glove. He asked why and was told they were looking for someone younger. He was 39 at the time. He ended up working as a contractor and is doing well.

 

As for women staying home it depends on the area. It is in some cases not easy to get all day child care and many believe that the mother or at least one parent should stay home with the kids.

 

Friends of mine both work. With their daughter I don't think they got a space for her in daycare until she was 18 months old and then only half day. The grandparents have bridged the gap. The mother says she sometimes hears comments at work like why have kids if you're not going to stay home but she doesn't let it bug her. 

 

When the kids start school it isn't necessarily full day either. I was working with one mom who said her 8 yo. has days where she starts at 9 and days she's out by 11. She was working part time and I don't know how she bridged the gap. Maybe kid home alone for a couple of hrs.

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I work in IT and so does my wife so I can tell you my/her experience, but this is of course not the same as others experience.

 

Basically when compared to other countries I would say that woman's rights are better than some and worse than others.  But it is gradually getting better, but that this is the same for all of German society.

 

Mostly however in IT it depends on the company.  There are plenty of women working where I do in IT roles, and I see no chauvinist behaviour towards these women.  They are fully respected for the work that they do and are treated equally by colleagues.  I hear nothing bad said about them even behind there backs.  And to be honest our company would not accept anything less.

 

However, the experience of my wife is not the same!  She has always been paid less than her male colleagues for doing the same job, often better!  And she still does experience such bad attitudes and behaviour.  Only the other day she joined a phone conference where the men were bad mouthing the women (they hadn't realised that she had joined).

She also had trouble coming bad to work after maternity leave, which she had to extend for 6 months (without pay) before she found a position in the company again.

 

But in general, I would say that things are improving and getting better and will continue to do so.

 

I would summarise it like this.  In any engineering role today it is still male dominated.  If you want to work in such an area then you need to;

1)  Show the men that you are just as good or better than them technically

2)  Be a strong character, don't take any shit, fight back and tell them when it is not acceptable.  If you are weak, they will walk all over you

3)  Ideally to work in IT you should have a passion or very strong interest for the work.  

 

 

If you can manage that then go for it.  If you are scared by anything I said, then maybe you should consider another career.

 

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The UK is far better than Germany and many countries when it comes to ageism. It's horrible not to be hired because of age, and 39 is such a young age. Many years before retirement. I can't understand why Germany is still so damn backward.

 

I personally I'm just scared of long term prospect for IT people. Like not finding work after 40, especially in a country where putting age on CV is the norm. Aren't you tech guys worried about that?

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4 minutes ago, elvy said:

Aren't you tech guys worried about that?

 

I wasn't before :mellow:

 

I think it's also the norm here to work at one company for years and years. In our IT team we have one guy who has worked here for 35 years and one for about 25 years. 

 

But I am sure if you're older, but you have a doctrate or a speciality, that you'd still be able to get a job,or?

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Yeah, you need to be a super genius to gain a job after a certain age. Like if 40 years didn't have the right to work like everyone else. It's not fair at all.But I guess the fact that people are difficult to fire, it's the real problem. Flexible firing rules, lead to flexible hiring ones. 

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39 minutes ago, dj_jay_smith said:

I work in IT and so does my wife so I can tell you my/her experience, but this is of course not the same as others experience.

 

Basically when compared to other countries I would say that woman's rights are better than some and worse than others.  But it is gradually getting better, but that this is the same for all of German society.

 

Mostly however in IT it depends on the company.  There are plenty of women working where I do in IT roles, and I see no chauvinist behaviour towards these women.  They are fully respected for the work that they do and are treated equally by colleagues.  I hear nothing bad said about them even behind there backs.  And to be honest our company would not accept anything less.

 

However, the experience of my wife is not the same!  She has always been paid less than her male colleagues for doing the same job, often better!  And she still does experience such bad attitudes and behaviour.  Only the other day she joined a phone conference where the men were bad mouthing the women (they hadn't realised that she had joined).

She also had trouble coming bad to work after maternity leave, which she had to extend for 6 months (without pay) before she found a position in the company again.

 

But in general, I would say that things are improving and getting better and will continue to do so.

 

I would summarise it like this.  In any engineering role today it is still male dominated.  If you want to work in such an area then you need to;

1)  Show the men that you are just as good or better than them technically

2)  Be a strong character, don't take any shit, fight back and tell them when it is not acceptable.  If you are weak, they will walk all over you

3)  Ideally to work in IT you should have a passion or very strong interest for the work.  

 

 

If you can manage that then go for it.  If you are scared by anything I said, then maybe you should consider another career.

 

Why doesn't your wife sue them? They're a committing a crime, by paying her less...

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15 minutes ago, elvy said:

Why doesn't your wife sue them? They're a committing a crime, by paying her less...

 

Yes, but it is so hard to prove that it is due to gender because they use excuses such as "but person x is better qualified".  This is true and justifies the difference (even if they do a worse job, which is also subjective and difficult to prove in court),

 

Plus, taking your employer to court would not result in a good relationship, make life much more difficult, and make it difficult to find a new employer in the future.

 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, elvy said:

Like if 40 years didn't have the right to work like everyone else. It's not fair at all.

 

That not my experience, in fact its not even the experience of "old" people I know.  Generally the concern older people in Berlin have is that its hard to find work from 50.  That said people I know over 50 havent actually had any difficulty finding work, they just expected to.

 

As an employer I have few applicants over about 45, so I dont feel confident talking about them but I can say that up to about 45 noone inrecruitment sees an issue with age where I work.

 

The only exception is that as people age it gets increasingly harder to get entry level jobs.  However provided the person in question is motivated, its still possible and we have had a couple of "bloody juniors" as the germans call them who were somewhere north of 35 (I dont remember how old exactly, sorry for the vagueness).

 

4 hours ago, elvy said:

and women face discrimination due to pregnancy risk and are expected to stay at home after  having had kids.It is really so bad?

 

Again, I hear much more concern about this than I ever see.  Pretty much all the women I know in their 30s have expressed concern that they wont be able to find work, but it doesnt appear to have been an issue.  Its not a huge sample size though.

 

Also, in my experience (2 companies here, for a total of about 10 years) companies dont seem concerned about pregnancy.  Whilst it is annoying to have someone leave for on average about a year its just considered part of life and provided we have a few months notice we can deal with it easily enough.  A high proportion of men also take several months off and as was posted elsewhere ( @LukeSkywalker I think) things like sabaticals are common, so its not such a big deal.  Maybe its different in other industries.

 

I did some analysis of the developers where I work.  We are around 75% male 25% female and in the junior to midrange levels women earn around 5% more and at the senior levels about 5% less (averaged by job title at the same level, normalised to take account of people working reduced hours).  Obviously its difficult to compare people, and 2 people notionally at the same level may have different qualifications, different amounts of experience and even different skills so the raw numbers dont tell the whole story, but thats about where we stand statistically.  I have no idea if other companies are the same.

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4 minutes ago, zwiebelfisch said:

 

That not my experience, in fact its not even the experience of "old" people I know.  Generally the concern older people in Berlin have is that its hard to find work from 50.  That said people I know over 50 havent actually had any difficulty finding work, they just expected to.

 

As an employer I have few applicants over about 45, so I dont feel confident talking about them but I can say that up to about 45 noone inrecruitment sees an issue with age where I work.

 

The only exception is that as people age it gets increasingly harder to get entry level jobs.  However provided the person in question is motivated, its still possible and we have had a couple of "bloody juniors" as the germans call them who were somewhere north of 35 (I dont remember how old exactly, sorry for the vagueness).

 

 

Again, I hear much more concern about this than I ever see.  Pretty much all the women I know in their 30s have expressed concern that they wont be able to find work, but it doesnt appear to have been an issue.  Its not a huge sample size though.

 

Also, in my experience (2 companies here, for a total of about 10 years) companies dont seem concerned about pregnancy.  Whilst it is annoying to have someone leave for on average about a year its just considered part of life and provided we have a few months notice we can deal with it easily enough.  A high proportion of men also take several months off and as was posted elsewhere ( @LukeSkywalker I think) things like sabaticals are common, so its not such a big deal.  Maybe its different in other industries.

 

I did some analysis of the developers where I work.  We are around 75% male 25% female and in the junior to midrange levels women earn around 5% more and at the senior levels about 5% less (averaged by job title at the same level, normalised to take account of people working reduced hours).  Obviously its difficult to compare people, and 2 people notionally at the same level may have different qualifications, different amounts of experience and even different skills so the raw numbers dont tell the whole story, but thats about where we stand statistically.  I have no idea if other companies are the same.

 

 

Do you live in Berlin? Maybe Berlin is more progressive? If some say age is a problem, while others say it isn't, maybe it also depends on the city or company. I just hope your experience is more common than the opposite, and being older or a woman doesn't increase the risk of being poor and jobless.

 

Also, which type of IT jobs are in most demand and will be in a few years? Is english enough to work in tech sector in Berlin? Is a bachelor enough?

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5 hours ago, elvy said:

Also, do you think the IT is a good choice, or would advise another engineering route?

 

IT currently has good prospects, but not for every specialty.  Some specialties have better prospects than others.  

 

Engineering and the Sciences which require aptitude in Math are dominated by men.   It does not mean that you won't be able to contribute or achieve success. 

 

If you are located in Berlin Mitte, then you are at the ground zero of the startup scene.   There are lots of opportunities to network and explore what is happening.  You can attend Meetup groups and get an idea how the people are.   They are usually free.

 

Here is a local chapter of "Pyladies" which is an international organization.

 

http://berlin.pyladies.com/

 

Good luck.

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41 minutes ago, elvy said:

Also, which type of IT jobs are in most demand and will be in a few years? Is english enough to work in tech sector in Berlin? Is a bachelor enough?

 

Hard to know. Consulting skills and devops seem to be hot right now.

 

English is enough to get by, but not speaking German is likely to hold you back in your career.  As a dev speaking English is important, but the more senior roles, customer contact, requirements analysis, etc... sooner or later you can't go further unless you speak good German.

 

A bachelor is enough for most companies, if I had to choose 2 years more experience or a master it would be experience every time.

 

I would advise an ambitious foreign student to drop their masters degree and spend the time getting c1 German whilst working.

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4 minutes ago, zwiebelfisch said:

 

Hard to know. Consulting skills and devops seem to be hot right now.

 

English is enough to get by, but not speaking German is likely to hold you back in your career.  As a dev speaking English is important, but the more senior roles, customer contact, requirements analysis, etc... sooner or later you can't go further unless you speak good German.

 

A bachelor is enough for most companies, if I had to choose 2 years more experience or a master it would be experience every time.

 

I would advise an ambitious foreign student to drop their masters degree and spend the time getting c1 German whilst working.

I agree. Experience is better than spending ages studying. I have also heard machine learning engineering is hot too. I'm unsure whether to move toward developer, and whether is better software or hardware. The bad thing about software is the risk of outsourcing or being replaced, or the low possibilities of doing it long term. I've heard you are expected to be in a PM position by 35 years of age. And its rare to find developers over 40's. Is that the case?

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13 minutes ago, elvy said:

I've heard you are expected to be in a PM position by 35 years of age. And its rare to find developers over 40's. Is that the case?

 

May i ask who has been feeding you information and how many cycles they have been through?  I don't work in tech any more, but your view seems very fatalistic. 

 

There are great opportunities and different tiers of work.  If you want to work on the cutting edge in a start-up and put in long hours, it will impact having kids.  If you want a 40 hour per week job, you can currently find that.  

 

If you study for 5-6 years, AI, machine learning and other currently hot topics will be using different tools and enjoy a more developed ecosystem than they do now by the time you finish.

 

5g and quantum computing are game changers and you might be able to ride the trends from those technologies for a longer time. 

 

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11 minutes ago, elvy said:

I've heard you are expected to be in a PM position by 35 years of age. And its rare to find developers over 40's. Is that the case?

 

Agree with balticus. Sounds like you are getting careers advice from Cosmo.

 

People progress through life. Very few people want to be a junior developer their whole life, but that doesn't mean you have to be a PM.

 

18 minutes ago, elvy said:

. I'm unsure whether to move toward developer, and whether is better software or hardware. 

 

What's your passion, what are your skills. 

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9 minutes ago, balticus said:

 

May i ask who has been feeding you information and how many cycles they have been through?  I don't work in tech any more, but your view seems very fatalistic. 

 

There are great opportunities and different tiers of work.  If you want to work on the cutting edge in a start-up and put in long hours, it will impact having kids.  If you want a 40 hour per week job, you can currently find that.  

 

If you study for 5-6 years, AI, machine learning and other currently hot topics will be using different tools and enjoy a more developed ecosystem than they do now by the time you finish.

 

5g and quantum computing are game changers and you might be able to ride the trends from those technologies for a longer time. 

 

I've been talking with some people in the IT industry. Mainly my main worries are long term possibility of working and the field being very dynamic, with the risk of becoming obsolete .

 

Isn't 5g more telecommunication engineering type of job?

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4 minutes ago, elvy said:

I've been talking with some people in the IT industry. Mainly my main worries are long term possibility of working and the field being very dynamic, with the risk of becoming obsolete 

 

Like any other well paid profession which requires cognitive skills.  

 

Which industry is not dynamic or facing threats from overseas competition, automation and a many other things?

 

Choose a field of study that has decent prospects that you enjoy.   

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4 minutes ago, zwiebelfisch said:

 

Agree with balticus. Sounds like you are getting careers advice from Cosmo.

 

People progress through life. Very few people want to be a junior developer their whole life, but that doesn't mean you have to be a PM.

 

 

What's your passion, what are your skills. 

 

 

As I said, I've have been speaking with someone in the IT word. Hard to say how much it true. It's depends on the individual. I like programming and maths. Being torn between choosing cs or electronics/mechatronic engineerings. Basically, would like to make a good decision long-term. Thinking of having stability when I'm 40. Low-level hardware programming seems more stable and I think will be hot with the IOT (I guess Germany has a strong demand of electronic engineering working on firmware,right), but is more difficult to break into. While software has a lower entry-barrier, but is less stable.

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1 minute ago, balticus said:

 

Like any other well paid profession which requires cognitive skills.  

 

Which industry is not dynamic or facing threats from overseas competition, automation and a many other things?

 

Choose a field of study that has decent prospects that you enjoy.   

I don't know. I guess more traditional engineerings change less frequently and are less prone to outsourcing. Basically, do you see IT has having decent long-term prospect.

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IT is very dynamic but IT also impacts traditional manufacturing, e.g. Tesla.  

 

Everything which does not require a local presence can be outsourced.  

 

You have the advantage of access to  excellent education and vocational training systems which can make you competitive in a global marketplace.  

 

 

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