7. December 2023 | Magazine:

Researching and Teaching Diversity – Interdisciplinary and Inter-University Braunschweig Centre for Gender Studies celebrates its 20th anniversary

Gender Studies offer the opportunity to explore diversity, raise awareness of stereotypes and discrimination in society, and provide impetus for innovation in science and society. The three universities Technische Universität Braunschweig, Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences and Braunschweig University of Art work closely together in the interdisciplinary research field of Gender Studies at the Braunschweig Centre for Gender Studies. On 11 December, this joint institution will celebrate its 20th anniversary.

From research, teaching and projects to knowledge transfer, networking activities and counselling: the range of tasks of the Braunschweig Centre for Gender Studies (BZG) is broad. “Professional cultures, which are also characterised by gender images, socially created ideas about gender and the resulting stereotypes and (power) relations are unconsciously anchored in our everyday lives much more often than we think,” says Juliette Wedl, who has been the BZG’s managing director for 15 years. “This is where our research, teaching and networking work comes in.

In addition to the work of the office, the BZG is supported by the members of the Gender Network of the three universities. “The aim is to strengthen Gender Studies at each university and in inter-university cooperation. Our inter-university interdisciplinary ring seminar has always been a meeting place. We also support students and researchers; as far as we can, we also fund teaching assignments, guest lectures and projects to integrate gender perspectives into teaching,” says Wedl.

Gender Competence Certificate

The Bachelor’s Gender Certificate pilot project has been running successfully for the past five years and is financed by TU Braunschweig’s study quality funds. Since the winter semester 2022/23, TU students have been able to expand their professional, methodological and social gender competence with the certificate for four semesters.

But there are also new approaches to teaching Gender Studies in the digital classroom. For example, the BZG has developed materials for teaching and reflecting on gender knowledge in the field of e-learning and blended learning. The second handbook published for this purpose presents subject-specific and interdisciplinary teaching units with different methodological and didactic formats.

The doctoral programme “Konfiguration von Mensch, Maschine und Geschlecht (KoMMa.G)“ (Configuration of Human, Machine and Gender), led by MGM Professor Dr. Corinna Bath and Prof. Dr. Bettina Wahrig, was successfully completed in 2020. Lecturers from the three universities supervised more than 15 doctoral projects that analysed technological development from a transdisciplinary perspective.

Gender research

The two-stage BMBF project “Geschlechterdimensionen in MINT-Disziplinen“ (Gender dimensions in MINT disciplines) will start in 2022. Under the leadership of TU President Angela Ittel, a concept for a structural development project at TU Braunschweig has been developed. The GeDiMINT project, which received a positive evaluation, will enter the implementation phase in February 2024. In cooperation with the Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences, concepts will be developed to support engineering, technology and natural scientists in integrating gender dimensions into their research.

Gender visions

Juliette Wedl says that further plans for the future relate to teaching. The extensive collection of materials on sexual and gender diversity will be increasingly integrated into all teacher training and social work degree programmes. The BZG also wants to make greater use of the Identity Lotto educational game in various contexts to raise awareness and continue the certificate project. “We want to make the Gender Certificate Bachelor accessible to a larger group of students and make it permanent. In addition, the centre is developing a small programme, so-called micro-degrees, for students in the MINT disciplines and for teacher training students in the Master’s programme”.