Gender-appropriate Trade Union Activities the Example of Bargaining Policy
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Dr. Barbara Stiegler
In November 1997, the 14th DGB-National Women's Conference decided to prepare and implement a campaign for improving the status of women's work and for equality-oriented bargaining policy. Women are becoming increasingly impatient because wage discrimination, even on the basis of collective agreements, has been a long-standing problem which has not, however, so far been regarded as too great a scandal, at least not in current bargaining policy. In its first part, the following paper presents the objectives of trade union bargaining policy aimed at reducing discrimination in pay, and strategies for women to achieve these goals; the last part looks into the question of structures and mechanisms through which trade unions, as large-scale organisations, contribute to re-establishing again and again hierarchically structured gender differences, of which wage discrimination is one aspect. Looking at the trade unions themselves from this angle, gives an idea of the kind of resistance to be overcome if trade union activities are to be brought into line with gender equality.
1. Objectives of trade union bargaining policy for reducing discrimination in pay
Women have always had to fight for their interests in equal pay against those of men. An historical retrospective illustrates that even in the years immediately after the war, trade unions had something "better" to do than to demand equality of pay (Drohsel 1986). It took decades to implement even the ban on direct discrimination, as a result of reduced pay or low-performance clauses, or of for example, the subsequent variation of low-wage grades, imposed by the highest courts. Court rulings of more recent times in favour of reducing discrimination in pay so far have left no imprint on trade union bargaining policy. When Great Britain filed its case, for example, the European Court ruled in 1993 that in the case of visible differences in pay between two jobs of equal value, of which one was almost exclusively performed by women, the other mainly by men, the onus of proof rested with the employer, i.e. that this was not the result of gender discrimination, but was technically justified. The fact that the difference in pay is negotiated collectively is not accepted as sufficient grounds by the European Court; even though it involves the same parties, it takes place in a different context and does not have a discriminatory impact if pursued individually (cf. Pfarr 1995).
1.1 Politicising bargaining policy: is there such a thing as fair pay?
The question of gender does not yet play a role in trade union bargaining policy. Gender-specific discrimination in pay, which all statistics repeatedly illustrate, is not perceived as a scandal and is not on the agenda of the bargaining parties. It is a long-standing experience of women trade unionists that their problems are perceived as women-specific problems and that the majority in the trade unions, i.e. the male members, can decide when to tackle them. It is also the experience of women trade unionists that they are rarely sufficiently strong to determine the agenda of current debates. And yet: the fact that
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men earn 1.5 times the pay of women is not an iron law, but reflects the balance of power which exists at present both between trade unionists of the two sexes and between trade unions and employers.
Important as the struggle of individual women in the courts may be, especially if the ruling was later applied collectively, it is just as important to start to exert pressure elsewhere: trade union policy on women's pay must go beyond the individual case, which can be determined by the courts, and make visible the low status of women's work in existing collective agreements. The sciences of law and ergonomics may assist in the process, but in the final analysis the debate on the low status of women's remunerated work must take place in the political arena. Pfarr/Bertelsmann already point out that there are limitations to the judicial review of assessments when stating that the assessment of criteria in an analytical job evaluation procedure cannot be subjected to court investigation because the courts have no mandate to make decisions on wage policy: that is the prerogative of the parties in collective bargaining (cf. Pfarr, Bertelsmann 1981). Similarly, fair pay cannot be the result of ergonomic procedures, rather, the debate on what constitutes fair pay must be re-opened. In this context, it must be accepted as a fact that gender does not constitute a sufficient reason for discrimination in matters of pay, or conversely, that gender does not constitute a sufficient reason for privileges in matters of pay. Gender-specific differences in pay no longer adequately reflect realities at the shop-floor because the reasons for determining whether a job is physically easy or hard are no longer relevant determinants in current work practices. When people talk of a re-professionalisation of productive work, i.e. that more and more qualified jobs will be created at the expense of unskilled jobs, there is no reason to regard women as less qualified and to exclude them from these jobs in the process.
Social reality either does not justify gender-specific differences in pay, because they originated from the idea that the husband should be treated as the breadwinner and the wife as someone supplementing family income. Just one glance at the data depicting the forms of living-together in this society makes it clear that increasingly fewer people follow the traditional patterns of marriage and family. Processes of differentiation and individualisation in society create a situation where increasingly fewer women perceive marriage as a means of financial security. As a result, it is no longer legitimate to reconcile gender-specific differences in pay with the male role of family provider. Even if conservative family models are revived in the social debate about forms of living-together, they no longer reflect either the ideas of young people or the realities of the older generation. If, on the one hand, gender-specific differences in pay are the result of a political decision made with the aim of stabilising gender hierarchy, this same gender hierarchy must be criticised on the other hand and the mechanisms that help to maintain it, including collective agreements, must be broken down accordingly. It must be made clear in the process, that the model of living-together of women and men that originally led to differences in pay based on gender hierarchy is becoming increasingly less relevant in real life today.
Trade union efforts towards removing discriminatory wording from collective agreements at the negotiating table with employers must be backed up by a broad discussion about the question of what might still justify gender-specific differences in pay today. This must also touch upon questions of fair pay a question which has not been raised in trade union circles for far too long. Even though the question of how to justify the marked differences in pay was at times raised in the context of harmonising collective agreements of industrial workers and salaried employees, it still does not seem to be an accepted practice among trade unions to question the legitimacy of the scale of wage differences, i.e. the legitimacy of evaluating so much better intellectual or managerial work, for example, as compared to the manual, or mental requirements for operating a machine.
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Perhaps it is also about time to raise the question of why dealing with people is so much less appreciated than operating a machine a question which plays a major role in attempts to improving the status of social service occupations.
Women have to be constantly reminding others of the fact that equal work is normally not compensated with equal pay. Hierarchically oriented differences in pay also have something to do with the differences between regions, local grades and sectors of industry; but whenever injustice occurs, it becomes evident that women are twice as seriously affected.
As far as concrete bargaining policy is concerned, the first step should be to analyse internal differences in pay and to identify them, within the existing bargaining framework, as injustices at the expense of women. This does not mean, however, that once internal discriminatory measures have been abolished, it would automatically harmonise the difference in pay between men and women at a global, statistically relevant scale. Every step taken in collective bargaining towards the equality of women, is only part of the overall picture where gender is no longer a valid reason for differences in pay.
1.2 Recognition and improved status of work allocated to women and redistribution of both paid and unpaid work between women and men
At first glance, regulations in bargaining policy appear not to affect private, unremunerated work. Specific working-time regulations may normally prevent persons who do these unpaid jobs from holding a remunerated job. At the same time, the level of pay in occupations which are comparable with unpaid work in their content of work also demonstrates how closely related in bargaining policy these two areas are. This is why the time spent by women on unpaid work and their input in this area is substantial must be considered in discussions on bargaining policy and the gender-specific allocation of this work to women, questioned. It is essential in this context to shed some light on the value of this work for the personal development of the individual.
In many areas, gender-specific hierarchies in the system of paid work can be simply demonstrated by statistically breaking down the composition of job grades. Gender equality can be achieved in two ways: firstly, by improving the status of work which is exclusively allocated to women, and secondly, by redistributing better-paid positions to the advantage of women, i.e. by gender parity in filling these positions. In the final analysis, this can be achieved only if unpaid private work, so far done mainly by women, is equally shared by men.
1.3 Policy on wage structure: solidarity in pay structures
1.3.1 Subsistence wages
The basic pay of the respective lowest grade covered in collective agreements should suffice to guarantee the subsistence of one person. This objective has not been achieved in all sectors and is again being questioned by the policy of employers' associations. Their endeavours to combat unemployment by introducing more minimum-pay jobs will not be successful. Experience from America shows that lowering welfare payments did not affect the level of unemployment, even though it was supposed to increase pressure to re-employ the unemployed in low-paid jobs. On the contrary, it results in a new class of servants and increases the danger of again affecting especially women who are usually employed in these insecure marginalised jobs, constantly close to the poverty line. The argument used that attempts at increasing the price of women's work would result in greater unemployment among women can be defeated by the example of Great Britain: in certain sectors, women there have brought their wages successfully in line with those of men which are admittedly relatively low wages, compared with the Federal Republic of Germany without affecting unemployment levels among women. Nor does reduced competitiveness of companies constitute a legitimate reason for discriminating
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against women. The frequently quoted problem of Germany's locational disadvantages cannot be solved by relinquishing a policy of gender equality, including the question of pay: if only the violation of internationally binding law (the precept of wage equality) provides a competitive edge to companies, it calls into question the whole market mechanism to which this competition has been subjected.
1.3.2 Low wage differential
It is in the interest of women to reduce the gap between the lowest and the highest job grades. Collective agreements do not even remotely establish egalitarian wage structures, i.e. differences between individual job categories are not as low as they could be. On the contrary, there seems to be a tendency to grant disproportionately more pay to those who are already in the higher grades, thus widening further the gap between those at the top and those at the bottom of the scale. It must be questioned whether this mechanism can always be justified by the necessity of creating incentives for those qualifications which are in short supply in the market.
Another reason for gender-specific differences in pay is mobility (or rather the lack of it) between collectively negotiated job grades. The easier it is to move from one grade into another, the more opportunity will there be for women to get out of the lower grades.
Changes necessary for up-grading lower pay grades can take place by giving formal recognition to knowledge and skills which are in effect used in these jobs; they could be justified by incorporating features like versatility, flexibility, responsibility and social competence into the job classification schemes. Moreover, an appropriate step towards achieving higher grades, especially for women, would be to classify the job on the basis of the highest-graded skill required at a particular workplace. The same effect would be achieved by no longer linking collectively negotiated pay so rigidly to seniority.
Various measures have been taken in order to give better pay especially to women in the lower pay grades. For example, new factors, such as sensory and nervous stress, which occur especially in women's workplaces, were included in the job descriptions of these groups. The effect of this strategy is, however, that requirements for typically male workplaces, for example training and responsibility, are still given a better status. In other words, women in fact get more pay, but the gap vis-à-vis the pay of men remains; nothing has changed in the classification hierarchy between men's and women's workplaces (cf. Weiler 1992). A strategy of abolishing the lower wage grade altogether produces the same effect. Experience has shown that whenever the level of pay was increased in the lower grades, the gap vis-à-vis the higher grades still remained either by adding to the higher job grades, or by introducing additional intermediary grades or by simply increasing men's pay. The latter strategy is used in particular in areas in which collective agreements can be negotiated specifically for men, for example for supervisors, technicians or engineers.
An analysis of these mechanisms clearly demonstrates that no long-term structural changes for the benefit of women will materialise in bargaining policy without an explicit declaration of political intent to harmonise the pay of men and women. Only an equality-oriented structural policy which takes into account the overall structure of a bargaining system and at the same time does not lose sight of the question of pay of men and women as a whole can be successful. This means in practice that gender distribution must not only be evaluated within a specific general outline agreement, but, since job grade discrimination takes place between different rates paid in one sector as well, that this must also be studied. Discrimination against women may always be suspected if gender distribution varies greatly in a specific area.
Better pay for jobs classified under the lower grades means redistributing, normally between men and women, the overall financial volume which has been negotiated. Realistically, this is best achieved by varying the increases in pay, in other words, by making an attempt to improve the status of women's work by not giving a pay increase to the higher grades, i.e. the male-
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dominated pay grades. The gap between men's and women's pay has shrunk relatively in the Nordic countries as a result of this strategy of solidarity in wage policy, but it widened immediately when the principle of lower wage increases in the higher grades was given up. In practice, the negotiated volume of wage increases was divided into two parts in each round of negotiations: one part was available for better pay in the women's grades, the other part was equally distributed among all workers.
Repeated attempts have been made in the Federal Republic to negotiate a lump sum or fixed increase, which has a similar effect. These fixed increases are helpful to women without focusing on a specific equality-oriented wage policy. However, we must still ask ourselves whether it is not necessary to define more clearly the objectives behind an equality-oriented bargaining policy in order to improve the marginal effects of lump sum or fixed increases.
Pay demands aimed at gender equality must no longer include a demand for extra pay for those grades which are a male domain. As a rule, it must be made clear that gender-specific differences can only be overcome if the level of men's pay is not going to rise further. This includes deferring all wage demands made for occupations in which mainly men are working. It would further require harmonisation of sectoral wages a proposal which does not seem very realistic in view of the existing pay structures in the Federal Republic. However, even the existing structures offer the possibility of the DGB (the German Confederation of Trade Unions), as the national centre, to negotiate collectively on specific issues if given the mandate to do so from its affiliated unions. This system of the national confederation of unions heading negotiations has resulted in relatively harmonised sectoral wages in the Nordic countries over a period of ten years.
1.3.3 Comprehensive co-determination in questions of performance-related pay
The granting of extra pay by evaluating individual performance is always subject to social processes of appraisal, among other things. Social processes of evaluation cannot result in objective appraisals because they are always influenced by socially conditioned perceptions, concepts and expectations. Thus, gender perceptions also play a role in the evaluation of performance. In order to control gender-specific discrimination in performance-linked payment schemes, gender parity is required in those bodies that do the actual evaluation. Mandatory monitoring of the gender effect of performance-related pay is required as well.
1.3.4 Financial compensation for time off for nursing and caring
Once the negative effects on those providing the socially-essential work of nursing and caring for children, the sick and the elderly have been reduced, the next step towards genuinely improving its status would be to demand that this work be financially compensated. The discussion on whether this should be based solely on payments from the state or on a combination of company and government payments is still going on. But the claim of being paid for this socially essential work must be followed up if gender-specific differences in pay are to be further reduced.
2. Strategies: how women can realise their goals
Looking at the current discussion on fundamental bargaining policy and also at the day-to-day problems in bargaining might be discouraging: the question of gender does not play any role at all in either of these two areas. Even if low-wage sectors are perceived as a problem for discussion, they are not treated as discrimination against women. Women have, however, successfully introduced the gender problem in some parts of the concepts of future bargaining policy of trade unions. However, even these partial, rather marginally recorded problems of women do not do justice to the general problems of gender equality; solidarity in wage policy or the important role of unremunerated work are rarely focused on in bargaining policy. The question of gender is even more blatantly ignored among the em-
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ployers. Their proposals for restructuring wage structures will cement gender differences further, for example when they complain about limited wage differentiation in the lower grades or criticise the fact that pay is not sufficiently linked to performance and revenues.
2.1 Organisational strategies
Strategies in organisational policy include all those steps which women must take in order to be able to make their voice heard within the trade unions and to explain the importance of their aims. They must use the positions they are holding already in decision-making bodies to this end and ensure that their objectives are properly considered in all traditional forms of bargaining policy as well as in those forms which have emerged only recently.
The participation of women, as representatives of their sex, in the bodies which so far determine bargaining policy is indispensable if wage discrimination is to be reduced through bargaining policy. It cannot be automatically assumed that every woman regards the reduction of discrimination against her sex as top priority on her personal political agenda, but it certainly cannot be expected that an equality-oriented bargaining policy is pursued by men alone.
Moreover, it is necessary to have not only gender parity in the bargaining commissions, but to have women as full-time union officers in the bargaining secretariats. Experience has shown that it is particularly the women who are involved in the actual bargaining process who pursue a policy of equality as well.
2.1.2 Qualification for bargaining policy
On the one hand, bargaining policy constitutes the decisive instrument for trade unions with which to enforce their interests; on the other hand, it is the responsibility of only a few experts within the organisation. In other words, the particular distance of women to questions of bargaining policy is embedded in a much wider field of ignorance about bargaining policy among the membership at large. Even when it comes to the practical implementation of bargaining results, i.e. by the works and staff councils, it remains in the hands of a few experts who have familiarised themselves with the complicated subject. Collective agreements are indeed formulated in such a highly complicated manner that it is difficult to understand them, and it requires major efforts to really get to know the system.
A qualification in this area, in particular amongst women, must not be limited to the ability to understand the filigreed ramifications of bargaining systems, but must focus on the biased formulations in agreements, on structural features of collective agreements and on the effects of agreements on women's wages. Traditional forms of training, which only aim at understanding the systems better, may entail the danger of using the newly acquired expert knowledge being justify the claim that innovative proposals are not feasible.
Particularly the experts in bargaining systems, both men and women, should be confronted with criticism about bargaining structures so that they become more aware of the fact that traditional structures only further aggravate gender-specific differences in pay.
In recent years, although slowly, the number of women with an academic background has increased, and as a result, opportunities to receive well-researched expert opinions have improved. Trade unions can use this opportunity and promote the equality of women in bargaining policy by supporting research projects in addition to commissioning specific expert opinions.
2.1.3 Democratisation of bargaining procedure
How difficult it is to include women's demands and perspectives in motions on bargaining policy from the union leadership can be seen in almost every trade union. It cannot at all be taken for granted that the issue of equality is recognised as an objective in bargaining.
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There were calls for a participation-oriented, membership-based bargaining procedure in many trade unions in recent years. In some of them, the trade union statutes have already been amended, in others, new forms of bargaining procedure have been established as a result. One project which far exceeds the traditional boundaries of bargaining procedure is the project "Uniform Collective Agreement on Pay for the Metal Industry in Baden-Württemberg" (cf. Bahnmüller 1993). Experience from the project illustrates the difficulties and constraints when the membership and experts re-orientate themselves towards participation, how easily the traditional "big shots" in bargaining may become unsure of themselves and how much opposition there can be against new ideas among existing organisational structures. However, the core elements of this project are also decisive for an equality-oriented bargaining policy: bargaining procedures with the aim of concluding a uniform collective agreement on pay should be project-oriented, participation-oriented and process-oriented. Project orientation meant that competent and motivated members were brought together for a specific purpose and for a limited period of time in order to develop their ideas in a workshop. Participation orientation meant that ideas proposed by the rank-and-file were not blocked because the regional organisations normally set the bargaining agenda, but that proposals from the rank-and-file were genuinely given a chance. Process orientation meant that the development of demands and the negotiation process took place in parallel, i.e. no ready-made draft agreements were put on the negotiating table, but specific parts of the draft agreement were tried out in the shops while negotiations were still in the process.
Even though, obviously, these elements of a differently structured bargaining procedure have not been comprehensively implemented for good, it does not invalidate the elements, but only demonstrates the degree of opposition that must obviously exist in trade union structures. Project orientation, participation orientation and process orientation seem to be indispensable elements for structuring an equality-oriented bargaining policy as well. Experience gained from other parts of the Women's Movement, including from the trade unions, have demonstrated that women in particular are willing to work in projects for a specific purpose and for a limited period of time and, if given the opportunity to develop their own concepts, work in a very creative and innovative manner. The fact that such projects require more time and may cause qualification problems, even the fact that they may go through critical phases, must not be taken as proof that the ideas behind them are also doomed to failure.
2.1.4 Organisational structures for an equality-oriented bargaining policy
A glance at the anti-discrimination campaigns in other countries seems to suggest that such campaigns should not be left exclusively to groups from the grassroots but that a commission, located as close as possible to the top leadership, should be involved and in charge of controlling campaigns. Such an idea has been suggested, for example, by the women in the Public Service Union in the German Federal State of Hesse, after they had studied the campaigns for improved status. They demand that the reduction of pay discrimination be officially addressed in the internal organisation of the trade union. If there were commissions in charge of anti-discrimination campaigns for their specific sector in all the national union headquarters it would ensure that the PR work which is absolutely vital for these campaigns was taken care of.
2.2 Strategies for awareness-building
Equality-oriented bargaining objectives must find acceptance not only amongst the union members, but also in public.
It is quite scandalous in this context that European directives and German legislation are not complied with and that wage discrimination against women continues to be tolerated, even aggravated, as is happening at the moment in the new Federal States in the eastern part of Germany.
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2.2.1 Campaigns for a better status
The campaigns for a better status, which have already begun for some female occupations in the public sector, clearly demonstrate: When women describe their own jobs and identify the unofficial and official elements of their jobs, it gives them so much self-confidence in their work that they are encouraged to take public action and at the same time to stand up to discussions within the trade unions which are not always easy. What is typical about these campaigns for better status is the fact that women themselves describe their work in their own words and that they attempt to depict the conflict between what they themselves see and what is covered by the official wordings of collective agreements. The idea is not simply to move into higher grades individual women, who have been classified unfairly even though that, too, is frequently a woman's fate, but to initiate a procedure in which women describe their own jobs and thus to support them in their claims for higher grades and better pay.
Such campaigns for better status could well be organised in connection with specific events. When the work situation changes in their sectors, it becomes more probable for women to look into their own situation. In the case of kindergarten teachers in the public sector, this might well be the changes resulting from the legal entitlement to a place in kindergarten, which these institutions must cope with in the coming years. For women in secretarial jobs, it might be the practical impact of reforms in public administration which are spreading. For women production workers facing restructuring, it might be the measures resulting from this process.
2.2.2 In-house analysis of pay structures within the framework of affirmative action for women
There is very little public awareness of the hierarchical nature of gender-specific differences in pay. Such gender-based analyses are rarely carried out, even in industry. However, gender hierarchy is clearly identifiable by a glance at the statistics, including in-house company statistics. In those areas where affirmative action plans for the benefit of women have already been introduced (especially in the public sector), employers are obliged to present corresponding analyses and data. Up to now, not a single place has been set up in which the large number of individual analyses could be collected and evaluated. Evaluating existing and new material would establish an excellent basis for bargaining activities. At the same time, this material could be used to make women aware of their position of pay in comparison to the men in their own company or administrative unit.
2.3 Taking legal action
Individual women who take legal action to achieve equal pay still require the backing of their trade union. The number of litigations may possibly rise in the course of campaigns for better status. Litigation dealing with critical problems of gender-specific discrimination in pay has already attracted a lot of publicity in the past. Women lawyers hold the view that standards for re-examining collective agreements in respect of direct discrimination have already been established as a result of jurisdiction by the European Court and by the highest German labour court (cf. Winter 1994). Notwithstanding, legal action should always be used as a strategy to be supplemented by effective public awareness and by asserting one's own interests within existing structures.
3. "Gender-doing" by trade unions as large-scale organisations
Trade unions are large-scale organisations which, owing to many mechanisms, their own structures and last but not least their policies, are not helpful in reducing gender differences and in achieving a better status for women's perspectives and living conditions.
It is proposed in the following to analyse some of the subject-specific structural dimensions affecting such a process of "gender-doing".
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3.1 Segregation of women by equating work with paid work
Trade unions represent the interests of men and women employees, i.e. they are active in the field of paid work. They thus deal with what makes up a major part of men's lives. This does not, however, equally apply to the majority of women who, apart from their paid work, are charged with the unpaid domestic household and caring chores of low status within the framework of a gender-specific division of labour. This results in women-specific living conditions which are not taken into account in trade union platforms and representative structures: individuals without a paid job are in fact denied union membership, even if they are working at least a full 8-hour day, as is the case with many women who work exclusively at home. Men and women workers with employment not covered by social security, and many women on part-time have hardly any access to trade unions, not least because they do not regard trade unions as representatives of their interests. Individuals working in honorary positions and women in particular, do most of the social charitable work do not find a place in the trade unions either. The work histories of women are proof of the diversity of forms in which women are working. This distinguishes them from men who often have normal employment for their whole lives. Women who are not living like men, i.e. doing the domestic and thus unpaid household and caring jobs, do not see their interests represented in the trade unions for this kind of work. The fact that men can remain in normal employment only because women ensure they are not troubled with other problems is completely ignored. This segregation is not only the result of specific forms of formal access to trade unions, but also of the unions' political agenda and the structures of union activities: problems resulting from unpaid work are too often at the bottom of the agenda, be it the necessary reduction of daily working time, the necessity of child-care facilities or a secure livelihood in old-age. And finally, the time-frame for day-to-day union activities is not amenable to the requirements of domestic household and caring activities. Evening meetings, week-end conferences, congresses over several days presuppose freedom from other obligations, such as caring for children, the sick or elderly. This applies also to the widespread system of multiple offices and positions, the ex-officio membership in bodies which the statutes already provide. This mechanism of segregating domestic work affects perhaps the least those young women who wish to have children, but do not have any yet. However, once they have come to terms with the system, they begin to support the one-sided orientation towards paid work a split between different categories of work which will later lead to their own segregation.
3.2 Segregation of women by equating the gender issue with the women's issue
Trade unions have always politically espoused the cause of women's equality in their platforms but it frequently looks as if what they actually have in mind is to adapt to a male perspective and way of thinking and to overcome a deficit women suffer from. What is rarely considered in trade unions is that the women's issue cannot be separated from a re-definition of the relationship between women and men, an end to the suppression and degradation of the feminine, a radical change of masculine lifestyles, in other words that the gender question is a core question of our culture. The women's issue is mainly defined patriarchally, i.e. that men lend support to "their" women so that the latter are better able to cope with the double burden. Such a gender perspective denies the complementary nature of men and women and the fact that women have certain problems only because men do not have them. It regards gender as a characteristic of one group who, on the one hand, is idealised and idolised, and on the other hand degraded and not taken seriously. The women's issue is therefore often given a special place within the organisation where women can discuss their problems a clever strategy of linking segregation to toleration which is often used to show women where their place is in the organisation: not in the decision-making bodies, but in the commit-
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tees specifically established for them. The fact that these committees are at times put into question is partly a response to the unexpected obstreperousness developed by women in these committees and to their demand for greater participation in the decision-making bodies. As long as the specific problems of women are not regarded as common problems of both men and women, as long as men stick to a limited background of experience and regard the domestic field as women's exclusive domain, women will remain a marginal group with a specific stigma who are at best tolerated, but whose concerns are regarded as a special case. Excluding women from fundamental union policy and structure in this way is a very powerful form of segregation (cf. Bachler 1995). Young women seemingly further reinforce this male perspective by not regarding the gender issue as important enough and by assuming that their own strength enables them to assert themselves. Unlike their mothers, the active women among them can no longer be credited with virtues such as self-denial and modesty, they do not allow men to dictate what politics are all about and what kind of interests they are supposed to have, and they certainly cannot be pushed away into a women's corner that they do not really want for themselves. Even if they have not yet discovered the gender question for themselves, they simply do not see problems which are exclusively the concern of women. This means that they will in no way accept the gender-specific place reserved for them in the trade unions and other large-scale organisations; this does not mean, however, that as a result they would in fact be able to solve the gender problem politically.
3.3 Segregation of women by denying gender hierarchy
Another strategy to keep women out of power consists in not realising and not accepting the existence of gender hierarchy and, linked to this, the realisation that men occupy higher positions owing to gender and male culture, but not owing to good performance and charisma. For men to take seriously gender hierarchy as a structural feature of their own organisation, too, would mean to admit that it has no legitimisation, to recognise male privileges for what they are and to give them up, to relinquish power for the benefit of women. So far, men have never voluntarily handed over their positions of power to women in any place; on the contrary, with increasing pressure they deny the existence of gender hierarchy altogether and pass the gender problem back to the women. By insisting on the ideal of gender neutrality of their own organisation, men pretend that the gender question is solved before it has ever been on the agenda. All those women who are not talking of gender hierarchy are accepted as allies and seen as proof of the fact that everyone can join as long as he/she wishes to do so. As long as no one proposes to focus on and to criticise gender hierarchy in appointments for offices, in the selection of topics and interaction between men and women in meetings, conferences and seminars, in other words, as long as women, too, respect the taboos established by men, the organisation does in fact appear genuinely gender-neutral and no gender hierarchy becomes visible (Derichs-Kunstmann 1995). As long as women accept the rules made by men in order to be allowed to join the game, and also to be protected against their aggressions and be allowed to stay, they leave it to men to dominate and shape the agenda. Women who in practice have more limited self-determination and less room for action are only accepted if they do not question this restraint and limitation and if they agree to the male view that every door is open to them. As long as women, too, continue to adhere to the illusion of the gender neutrality of large-scale organisations, they reinforce the segregation of their own sex. Once they start putting gender hierarchy on the agenda, they are immediately confronted with the powerlessness resulting from it (Morgenroth 1996).
3.4 Segregation of women by belittling women's perspectives and value orientations
Not all women, but mostly women have also a somewhat different perspective of trade union politics. Even in their approach to politics, they
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prioritise motives differently. Women tend to emphasise the feeling of belonging, the wish to support specific objectives and to co-operate with like-minded people, while men stress more their determination to realise their aims and to drive back the influence of those who think differently (Meyer 1992). Women who quote these motives as reasons for joining a large-scale organisation such as a political party or a trade union refer back to gender-specific orientations, even though structures and cultures of large-scale organisations up to the present correspond more with values of masculine connotations: in those organisations, too, competition, hierarchy and rationality take precedence over caring, intuition or sensuality. This becomes particularly visible in the forms of speaking and communicating which prevail in meetings or are used by prominent representatives: these forms are not only alien to many women, they cannot even copy them, let alone tolerate them. In juxtapositioning a masculine "boozing culture" with a feminine "communication culture", the polarity between perceptions about the two sexes are characterised. But even in this crude form it reflects the experience of many women who face the choice of either boozing with the men or being ignored, in particular when they work as individuals in male-dominated groups. When confronted with such a male domain, women often face the alternative of adapting or disengaging. They often lack the strength to shape and change the style, the culture and the issues and to act in line with value orientations of feminine connotations, based on the experience of women in the private domain which has been defined as their place. It becomes more difficult if women are expected to achieve this single-handed or in opposition to women who prefer to fall in with male perspectives. This mechanism, which reinforces existing forms of communication, not only results in the segregation of individuals, but also influences the political agenda. Topics important to women are often forgotten and seen as secondary and without relevance, while topics concerning men are defined as being of general interest and thus a matter of priority. Young women are not particularly interested in topics such as the Armed Forces and economic policy, especially if their own topics of interest such as working time and living time, job and living with children are regarded as insignificant. However, if the gap becomes too wide between what they regard as important and what is discussed in the organisation, the gap between the way in which they would like to deal with other people and the way it is handled in the organisation, then they will opt out, thus intensifying the split between men and women even further. When young women identify their demands vis-à-vis large-scale organisations as being lean hierarchies, co-operative methods of work, transparency, project-oriented work practices, stringent work processes and network-based thinking, it almost reads like the list of targets in modern organisation development. Organisations which are developing these forms of structures will hardly be experienced as male-dominated. Nor will they be organisations which are stabilising gender polarity and segregating women.
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