Office for Gender Competence
The Vienna University of Technology (TU) is committed to the concerns of promoting women and to creating positive and career-enhancing conditions for women. It therefore regards reaching the goal of assuring suitable development opportunities for men’s and women’s careers at the TU and removing or reconciling existing disadvantages for women as a common task of all university members.
The Office for Gender Competence is a service institution that aims to work towards these goals. Its tasks include the fields of gender research and research into gender mainstreaming, women-specific human resources development for female employees, supportive measures for female school and university students and junior scientists as well as counselling activities.
The tasks of the Office for Gender Competence also include the fields of gender research and research into gender mainstreaming.
The TU’s equal opportunities plan provides that women and gender research or gender-specific content have to be incorporated into the curricula, at least as elective or voluntary elective subjects. The Office has also been conceived as a contact point for questions on gender research and research into gender mainstreaming.
On the pages below, you will find a short text on “What are Gender Studies?” as well as an overview of gender research classes currently taught at the TU Wien.
Gender Studies developed out of women studies, and currently include research on women, men and gender. Their subject is the pivotal importance of gender in science and society. There is hardly a field in which gender does not play a role, and in which it does not make a difference whether an individual moves in it as a “woman” or as a “man”. Gender is not understood as a natural given, but as subject to social and cultural mechanisms of construction. Therefore, gender research inquires into the issue of how individuals become “men” and “women”, and what these processes implicate.
So far, the absolute majority of students at the TU Wien take their degree without ever having been confronted with gender-specific issues explicitly. In most technical and scientific disciplines, the gender dimension is completely absent.
Does technology have a gender?
The quantitative proportions in scientific and technical courses alone point to gender specifics in handling technology. However, these are accompanied by a qualitative implication: technology in our society is not gender-neutral, its use is embedded into a social system of gender-specific attributions and clichés regarding technological competence.
Prevalent everyday theories about technology and gender posit a fundamental difference between women and men and introduce a hierarchical relationship between the two groups. Our everyday theory about technology and gender might be put like this: “Men/boys are competent with regard to technology and stay so until definite proof to the contrary. Women/girls are not competent with regard to technology, and stay so, too, until proof to the contrary.”
Can we think a different technology?
By introducing the category of gender, science-critical problems are introduced into the different disciplines and questions are raised regarding the hierarchy of disciplines. Processes of technology design are of huge socio-political importance; mediation processes regarding these take place within the structures of society, gender and technology. Therefore, we may assume that the preference for certain technologies – and the concomitant rejection of alternative technologies – can be explained by social conventions that, amongst other things, reflect gender relations in our society. Based on the assumption that more than ever, technological change influences every aspect of our public and private lives, participation in processes of technological organization gains increasing relevance. Today, participative and gender-sensitive technological design is still in its early stages. Introducing the dimension of gender into courses at the TU constitutes one step in this direction.
The sphere of action of the Center covers:
- Conception and implementation of projects on woman-specfic personnel development for female employees at the TU Vienna.
- Coordination of the gender studies offer in individual curricula
- and documentation of gender research and research on gender equality between women and men.
- Cooperation and networking with university institutions, extramural institutions, economy and industry on questions of the promotion of women and equal opportunities.
- on questions of women's policies.
- on exsisting measures of promotion as well as ongoing and planned projects of promoting women.
- on achievements of university professionals in the area of women and gender studies which are hardly visible otherwise, and on opportunities of self-presentation for female scientists.
- Counselling on careers at the university.
- as point of contact in cases of sexual harassment and mobbing.