By KATRIN BENNHOLD Published: August 23, 2011

OSNABRÜCK, GERMANY — Playgrounds can tell you a lot about a society.I used to cycle to work through the Square des Batignolles, our local park in western Paris, and was always struck by the almost uniform ethnic segregation: mostly white toddlers chasing each other and their caregivers, brightly clad West African women chatting away on the benches rimming the sandpit. On those same benches on Sunday afternoons, I would socialize with other young, professional French mothers.Here in Germany, the only adults populating playgrounds on any day of the week appeared to be mothers — often mothers with a university education who not long ago earned a respectable income. Of the several social insights to be gleaned from this comparison, one is surely this: French mothers work, and many of them full-time.If you would like to read more of this article click HERE to go to the New York Times site.