Democracy needs Women Democrats

Democracy needs women democrats. Opportunities and barriers of political culture for the political participation and careers of women in East-West comparison (06/2019 - 12/2019)

Initial Position

As in many areas of society, women are still severely underrepresented in politics, so that we are still a long way from an equal relationship that gives men and women equal opportunities to take on leadership positions. In politics, the equal participation of women is of particular relevance because - according to the project's initial assumption - it not only has significant structuring and institutionalising consequences, but also has a normative signal effect on the culture of political participation in all social sectors and subsystems. Despite efforts to increase the proportion of women in parties and other political organizations institutionally, for example through quota regulations, the under-representation of women has changed only gradually.


Project Objectives

The research project starts from this starting point and investigates the significance of political culture for the opportunities and barriers of women in established and at the same time contrasting political arenas, more precisely: parliamentary and trade union arenas (and organisations) in East and West Germany. Political culture can be defined as the collective practice of political organisations in the form of habitual patterns of perception, thought and action (dispositions) as well as communication and interaction schemes (e.g. discourses and semantics, communication styles) that are effective in the collective everyday practice of political organisations. The starting point is thus the interaction between structural-institutional barriers and socio-culturally constructed and legitimized communication and action practices (generally referred to as political culture), which have a negative impact on the access and career opportunities of women in leadership and elite positions in political parties and trade unions. The first issue is the forms and contents of political (sub)cultures that are experienced in the research groups as barriers and opportunities for women to take on positions of responsibility. According to the logic of the comparison, both regional and organisational differences are included. By means of the first East-West comparative perspective in the context of the under-representation of women in politics, the study establishes a superordinate connection, which allows first conclusions to be drawn about possible similarities and differences between the political cultures in East and West Germany, especially with regard to the integration of women in politics. Gender and origin thus form the two central anchor points of the study.


Realization and Methods

Two state parliaments and trade union districts (East-West comparison) as well as the SPD and Bündnis 90/the Greens and the IG Metall and GEW trade unions were selected for the study. The fact that the Greens and the SPD have different party-cultural self-understandings speaks in favour of selecting the parliamentary groups, which may also have an impact on the gender issue. Among the trade unions, the GEW is recommended because of its high proportion of women within the trade union structure and the low proportion of women among political employees. The IG Metall can be seen as a methodologically sunny contrast to this, above all because of its relatively opposite membership structure.

The research project follows different methodological approaches:

  • Analysis of the socio-structural composition of the state parliament fractions (e.g. age, gender, education) on the basis of freely accessible information on the members of parliament. This information is not available for the trade unions.
  • Focus group interviews and individual discussions with members of the state parliament and trade union officers in leading positions.
  • Development of concrete measures and recommendations for action for cultural change from the perspective of the interviewees

Project Funding

The project is funded by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung within the project „For a better Tommorrow“ (2018-2020).



  • On December 15th, 2020, the study "Democracy needs women democrats. Barriers of political culture for women's careers in politics and trade unions - and approaches for their change" by Dr. Hanna Haag and Prof. Raj Kollmorgen was presented online.

Presentation of the Project at TRAWOS-Forschungskolloquium (Research Colloquium)

Wednesday, 20.05.2020 - 15 -16.30 Uhr


First virtual TRAWOS-Research Colloquium 
"Democracy needs women democrats. Opportunities and barriers of political culture for the political participation and careers of women in East-West comparison" with Dr. Hanna Haag

More information + documents about this session


Foto: Prof. Dr. phil. habil. Raj Kollmorgen
Project Lead
Prof. Dr. phil. habil.
Raj Kollmorgen
Fakultät Sozialwissenschaften
02826 Görlitz
Furtstraße 2
Building G I, Room 2.17
2. Obergeschoss
+49 3581 374-4259
Projekt Coordination

Dr. phil. Hanna Haag