There's a serious debate in Germany over whether instituting legal quotas for women in upper management would help address gender inequality. But don't hold your breath for something similar in the U.S.
From left, Family Minister Kristina Shroeder, Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen, and Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger at a press conference with representatives from the DAX companies on Monday, October 17 / AP
Last Monday, the 30 companies of Germany's blue-chip DAX stock index pledged to increase the proportion of women in management positions. That's news in itself. What's most interesting, however, is what didn't happen that day, and what some German politicians openly argue should have happened.
In the U.S., there's a lot of hemming and hawing about the scarcity of female managers on Wall Street. That's not to say there isn't some highly articulate reflection going on, the gold standard for which increasingly appears to be Sheryl Sandberg's TED talk.
Sandberg's key points are that there really is a problem, that it's not because of lack of female potential, and that women need to stop shooting themselves in the foot -- no more drawing back ten years early in anticipation of childbearing, for instance. Equally, though, she lists areas where we, as a society, need to improve. We need more equitable division of labor in the home, for example, if we want to see more equitable division of honors in the boardroom.