Berlin Lawmakers Seek Gender Equality in Their Traffic Lights

Caroline Winter – Businessweek – Wednesday, 28 May 2014 (originally published 22 May)

Berlin street light illustration
Image: Illustration by Braulio Amado

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.”

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 . . .

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