Symbolbild: Gender Studies © istockphoto.comGender continues – despite all the rhetoric – to play an enormous role in society, and it can be of critical importance to the individual. Even in the choice of field of study and profession, several areas show striking gender-based patterns that cannot be explained by personal inclinations alone.

Observing areas such as computer science, the technical sciences and the philologies, we find a distinctly unequal involvement of women and men. Not only horizontally, but also in the professional hierarchies are large disparities to be found: the higher the position, the greater the dominance of men. The proportion of female university professors, for example, amounts to only 20%. Gender research, which views such conditions as the product of society, has been investigating these phenomena scientifically for over 40 years. During this time, the socially structuring effects of gender in society have been clearly identified.

In regard to the sciences, one of the major findings of gender research is the existence of a persistent androcentrism that is usually taken for granted: men, male perspectives and experiences are taken as the basis and norm for research and teaching. Women and female perspectives – if considered at all – are presented as the particular and the divergent. There are numerous examples in which the objectivity and general validity of scientific findings turn out to be a chimera when viewed from the perspective of gender research: for instance, when the introduction of "general" suffrage in Austria is listed as 1907, even though women were not allowed to vote until 1919.

For the past six years, most of the curricula offered at the University of Innsbruck have included modules that treat gender-specific aspects of the respective subject. This is also the case in areas which, at first glance, appear to have little relevance for the question of gender, such as the technical and computer sciences. The inclusion of such modules may be seen within the context of the University Law of 2002, in which the goals of the university include striving to achieve "a society with greater humanity and gender equality" (§ 1 UG 2002). Graduates of the University of Innsbruck should thus learn subject-specific gender aspects during their studies; they should also be able to support this university goal in their later professional lives.

 Overview of gender-specific programs and courses at the University of Innsbruck:

 Coordinating organization Office for Equality and Gender Studies:

Maga Elisabeth Grabner-Niel, Office for Equality and Gender Studies

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