[This is an invited blog post by Anca Gheaus.--ES]
The standard academic career in Germany is not tenure track. Usually the only academics with permanent jobs are a limited number of full professors. Moreover, the law restricts the length of cumulative temporary contracts to 6 years. So most academics are in very insecure jobs, with a low probability of survival in academia. If and when they get a professorship, however, they become unusually powerful, resourceful, independent and well off in terms of prestige relative to professors in other countries.
Similar problems affect women academics in other countries. The case of Germany is special not only because of the magnitude of the problems but also because they are entrenched by the job structure and legislation on temporary contracts. I'm very curious to know what other people think.
For an overview in English of the academic career structure in Germany see here: