Berlin Lawmakers Seek Gender Equality in Their Traffic Lights


Bloomberg Business Week:

Berlin Lawmakers Seek Gender Equality in Their Traffic Lights

For decades, Berlin’s pedestrian crossings have been ruled by squat red and green men wearing hats. They are Germany’s iconic Ampelmännchen—the “little stoplight men” that grace many of the country’s walk signals.Now, Berlin lawmakers are demanding gender quotas for their capital city’s walkways. They insist the time has come for a Berliner Ampelfrau. “Women need to be more present in the appearances of our capital’s streets,” Martina Matischok-Yesilcimen, Germany’s Social Democratic Party district leader who signed a recent motion (PDF) to introduce female walk signals, told Bloomberg News. “We’re a diverse city, and that deserves to be seen.”

Germany’s beloved Ampelmann dates back to 1960s East Berlin, when the traffic psychologist Karl Peglau introduced the first walk lights in the country’s capital. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Communist relic achieved cult status and was adopted by several German cities. Today, tourists can buy all manner of Ampelmann souvenir swag, including red, green, and white Ampelmann pasta (which for some reason bears the name Naughty Noodle).
Not that Ampelmännchen haven’t seen any female competition. Some eastern German cities, such as Zwickau, Dresden, and Fürstenwalde, long ago unveiled an Ampelfrau with bow-tied braids and a knee-length skirt.

Berlin’s politicians are dismissive of these sorts of girlish crossing guards: “We don’t want a woman with braids and a flowy skirt,” Matischok-Yesilcimen told Der Tagesspiegel, adding that the Ampelfrau should look “modern and self-confident.” The SPD district leader does not yet have a specific design in mind but says pants and high heels would be a good look for the contemporary Ampelfrau. It’s worth noting that the current Ampelmann could, in theory, be a woman in slacks.

I can only assume that the Bundesrepublik has solved every other problem confronting it and is now free to work on traffic-light inequality.

The Amplelmannchen probably are due to be replace just because the graphics are so outdated. Why not go with a genderless stick figure?


Who knew there was inequality among lights? I wonder if some of them will need counseling.:smiley:


In all seriousness, if they want a woman acting manly for equality purposes, just say the figure can be either male or female. Women wear hats, too.


Wow. This is insane. Is this really such a huge issue that they must spend money to change this? I mean, come on! Surely there are other causes that the money could be better spent on such as helping the poor, homeless, and hungry.


Are we sure this isn’t from The Onion?


It definitely seems to be that type of story. However, I think it’s a true story unfortunately. But regardless, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it was true. Political correctness has gone too far in many societies.


What an embarrassment for the Germans. Any time I can read a story and think it is some nonsense from an American liberal blue state, it isn’t a good representation for the people in the story.

Get a life, people.


I’m surprised that some clowns in NYC haven’t yet complained that the little figure on our walk signals looks too much like a dude. I guess I should just give them time…


I wonder if the news report is accurate? In the minutes of the meeting, there doesn’t seem to be any mention of a quota. Rather, the motion states that a few German cities have a female figure on their traffic lights, as do a few other countries. The motion asks that Berlin consider including female figures. The female representation should avoid the stereotypes of braids or high heels or skirts of extreme length (whether long or short.)

Here is the actual motion, as published in the minutes:

4.Ampelzeichen im Bezirk Mitte
Die Bezirksverordnetenversammlung möge beschließen:
Das Bezirksamt wird ersucht, sich bei der Verkehrslenkung Berlin dafür einzusetzen, dass neben den bisherigen Ampelmännchen unter dem Gesichtspunkt der Gleichstellung von Menschen u.a. auch moderne selbstbewusste Ampelfrauen zur Regelung des Fußgänger- und Straßenverkehrs als Ampelzeichen dienen.
Es gibt in verschiedenen Städten Deutschlands u. a. Dresden und Fürstenwalde oder Ländern u. a. Belgien und England Beispiele von Ampelfrauen. Bei der Umsetzung ist darauf zu achten, dass das moderne Frauenbild wiedergegeben wird, um einem Rollen- oder Sexismusklischee entgegenzuwirken. Die moderne selbstbewusste Frau trägt in der Regel keine Zöpfe und keine weiten Röcke. Sie ist auch nicht überwiegend im Minirock und auf Highheels unterwegs. Zwischen beiden Extremen gibt es eine Vielzahl von Möglichkeiten einem zeitgemäßen Frauenbild gerecht zu werden.

In the minutes of the meeting, an image was posted. It shows samples of crossing lights of various countries. These samples all illustrate a man and a woman, side by side or one following the other.


it’s good that they’re doing this. Otherwise, Berliners wouldn’t know there is such a thing as a woman. :rolleyes: (Did the women know??? :shrug:)


I actually laughed when I saw this headline. My initial thinking was “they have traffic lights that can tell your gender.”


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