German Language Blog

100 Years Of Women’s Suffrage In Germany Posted by on Jan 30, 2019 in Culture, Language, Traditions

Guten Tag! There has been uproar in German politics recently because a German mayor was not invited to a charity event – simply because she is a woman. This comes shortly after Germany celebrated 100 years of women having the vote.

Karoline Linnert is the finance senator and substitute mayor for the city of Bremen. She was elected to fill in for Carsten Sieling, the city’s primary mayor, who had to back out at the last minute to attend the funeral of the mayor of Gdansk In Poland. But despite being his official representative, Linnert did not get an invite to the annual Eiswette charity event, because it is traditionally for men only.

Die Bremer Eiswette (‘Bremen Ice Bet’) is an annual event where people place bets on whether die Weser (River Weser) is frozen or not (‘ob sie geht oder steht’ – ‘whether it moves or stands still’). The money made at this charity event is donated to the maritime search and rescue service. This is a long-standing tradition in Bremen dating back to 1828 – but it’s always been exclusively for men.

This is especially raw as Germany recently celebrated 100 years of women’s voting rights (‘100 Jahre Frauenwahlrecht’). German women gained the right to vote in 1919 (it wasn’t until 1977, however, that women were allowed to get a job without their husband’s permission).

And although the country has been led by Angela Merkel since 2005, the majority of German politicians are male.

Image via Pixabay

Language students often raise an eyebrow at the use of gender in the German language itself. One of the common questions people have about it is: What’s with the three genders (articles) for nouns? Why is a chair ‘male’ (der Stuhl), a cat ‘female’ (die Katze) and a girl ‘neuter’ (das Mädchen)? And although the answer to this question is actually very innocent (answer: the genders/articles have nothing to do with the nature of the noun they are describing), there are definitely some issues with the way male and female roles are separated in the German language, the way they aren’t so much any more in English. If you’re interested, you can read more about this topic here!

I hope this has been interesting!

Bis bald!

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


  1. James:

    What do you mean by, there are definitely some issues with the way male and female roles are separated in the German language, THE WAY THEY AREN’T SO MUCH ANY MORE IN ENGLISH.
    Not aware of any seperation of roles in English as its against the law.

    • Constanze:

      @James Waiter/waitress, actor/actress, steward/stewardess. However, some actresses now prefer to be called actors, and stewards & stewardesses are known collectively as cabin crew.