Women Of East Germany: Ahead Of The Game?S

According to the New York Times, 20 years after the fall of the wall, Eastern women are kicking ass.

Says the Times' Kattrin Benhold,

Eastern women are more self-confident, better-educated and more mobile, recent studies show. They have children earlier and are more likely to work full time. More of them are happy with their looks and their sexuality, and fewer of them diet. If Western women earn 24 percent less than men, the pay gap in the East is a mere 6 percent (though overall levels of pay are lower). Eastern women have made their mark: Chancellor Angela Merkel, a physicist, is from the East, as is Manuela Schwesig, the No.2 in the opposition Social Democratic Party. The most high-profile political talk show is run by Maybritt Illner, another Easterner, while actresses like Nadja Uhl and Nora Tschirner are among the most popular. As Ms. Schwesig, 36, put it: "Eastern women are where Western women want to be."

Were this not enough, Eastern women reportedly are more comfortable dealing with male employees and are less conflicted about childcare. The combination of expected working at the highest level — and the new opportunities better appreciated than by those who perhaps took those freedoms for granted— has proven a fertile combination. But is it one that can be replicated? Without the other component memories a woman in the piece alludes to - "security services pressing her to inform on fellow students in the summer of 1989, or chaining her best friend to a radiator in solitary confinement." And, more than anything else, can we make such generalizations?

"Of course it's a bit overblown," wrote one friend from Dresden about the piece. "Do we have problems, issues, just like regular people? Of course we do. Yes, we value work and equality. It is dangerous to romanticize anything, especially something genuinely repressive, but we were brought up without a room for error you (no offense) take for granted. And that was completely equal-opportunity. Can you have one without the other? I like to think so."

20 Years After Fall of Wall, Women of Former East Germany Thrive
[NY Times]