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UNESCO award for WIT project

"fFORTE WIT - Women in Technology" is a part of fFORTE, a common initiative of the Council of research and technology development and the Austrian Federal Ministries of Science and Research, for Transport, Innovation and Technology, and of Economy and Employment. 

Project conclusion and summary

fFORTE WIT – Women in Technology 2008 - 2012

Project conclusion
In the WIT project, we were able to take up nearly all the opportunities for the promotion of women with a target group scope from 10-year-old schoolgirls up to female university professors. There is still some room for expansion and perfection within the target groups of senior schoolgirls, post-doctoral researchers and graduates.

The sustainability of a women’s promotion programme is safeguarded when implemented measures, expert cooperation and networks are secured by a sufficient financial and time frame so the aims and demands defined at the starting point can be met.

In order to meet these goals of women’s promotion measures and to change discriminating structures and modes of behaviour, the fact has to be understood and energetically addressed that the promotion of women can neither be accomplished by the Center for the Promotion of Women nor by the university management alone. All faculties, all departments all university employees are responsible for it.

In 2011, the Leaky Pipeline Study provided ample scientific proof of why the promotion of women at the Vienna University of Technology is still an important step ahead for this institution. Without engaging all university institutions, however, the necessary changes cannot be brought about.
Measures for the promotion of women like the fFORTE WIT –Women in Technology project are an important building block for a concept of sustainable networks and structures with the aim of eliminating discrimination, but not the only one by far.

WIT in numbers 2008 – 2012

Project description – project outline – project funding – project goals – project experience


The official project closing

fFORTE WIT - Women in Technology was celebrated in November 2011. The project, implemented at four faculties at the Vienna University of Technology may look back on a great track record:
WIT core team: 8 female PhD students, 8 tutors
1,220 participants in 61 seminars and workshops
1,131 participants at 129 techNIKE workshop days
16 female mentors and 72 mentees in online mentoring
9 female mentors and 36 mentees in group mentoring

The secret to WIT success
WIT specialities:

  • scope of measures and target groups
  • high quality curriculum and further training
  • networking across all faculties

WIT successes

The secret of WIT

  • WIT actors

Project conclusion:

  • WIT is an important step – although not the only necessary one – in order to increase the proportion of women at the Vienna University of Technology
  • WIT needs sustainability // a network at all faculties // the inclusion of all university employees
  • WIT is a project as a tool for a bridge to the future

The WIT organisation team wishes to thank all those involved in the project and all our partners for their cooperation, support and energetic commitment.
The most recent contracts of WIT PhD students ended in September 2012 and up until then, WIT existed in its familiar form.
From 2013, we hope to be able to start the WIT 3 follow-up project at all 8 faculties at the Vienna University of Technology.







Responsibility in research – responsibility for research

Specialist exchange of the WIT core team 2010

In two short workshops and a keynote lecture the philosopher Mag.a Nora Hangel presented the core thoughts on this subject in an expert way, put them up for discussion and invited the participants to take part actively. 

A) Technical research and the societal context in which it is integrated
The goal is to refer to the multidimensional aspects of responsibility in technology

Responsibility can be described as multi-digit relation: WHO has responsibility, WHAT FOR, TO WHOM and regarding WHICH normative standards.
Technology, e.g. a machine,/ a tool/ a process does not stand for itself in a neutral and value-free way, but is a means to a certain end. All acts of producing and using this technology give rise to decisions of action. And this is where the domain of ethics and and ethics of technology starts, and thus the end of the thesis of the neutrality of technology. Besides production and use there also is the knowledge of technological processes, their use and repair. In this third domain, the ethics of technology makes an impact, too.
By means of the technological achievement of the car Ms Hangel showed in which context of responsibility technology stands: The car as an answer to a heightened need for mobility, the increase of infrastructure like petrol stations, road networks; the political necessity of laws and traffic rules and an adjusted health system because of accidents. Thus, technology changes the world actively. Neither the development of technology nor its use take place in a „vacuum“. Technology therefore does not only have a multi-digit relation, but also multidimensional effects. It is important to realise that responsibility does not vanish into the gaps between responsible parties as soon as it comprises multiple parties, like e.g. producers, technology knowers, users.

B) Research routine and its organisational coherence: Researchers themselves
The goal is to show the responsibility of cooperation of researchers in technology.

There was an interesting article in 2005 in the journal Nature on scientific malpractice of researchers.
The results highlight the importance of searching for new ways for lessening the danger to research integrity. In order to ensure integrity in research, the research environment and those aspects need to be examined which promise the best results of change.

Reference: Fenner, Dagmar: Einführung in die Angewandte Ethik, UTB 2010.

In 2010, the project consolidates its structures

The further development of the project "fFORTE WIT - Women in Technology"; in all its dimensions has taken place in many ways in 2009.  In 2010 the project starts to consolidate these structures, to develop them further to some extent, and to anchor them at the Technical University of Vienna.
This is attended by an intensification of cooperations and contacts with project partners.
The range of seminars to support and promote careers in science has been expanded in 2010, too, and has been adjusted to the needs of participants to an optimum.
The support of young talents is continually expanded through projects like the TechNIKE summer workshops and the OnlineMentoring

UNESCO award for WIT project

A great award for a model of promotion of young female researchers

September 2009

The project “fFORTE WIT – Women in Technology” implemented by the Center for the Promotion of Women and Gender Studies was distinguished as a decade project “Education for Sustainable Development” by the Austrian UNESCO commission.
The solemn award ceremony was celebrated on October 2nd, 2009. This award was received by the initiator of the WIT project, o. Univ. Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Mag. Dr. techn. Gertrude Kappel and the scientific director o.Univ.Prof. Dr. techn. Franz Rammerstorfer.

The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) is one of the 16 legally independent special UN organisations.
Sustainable development is one of the main challenges of the 21st century. Following the suggestion of the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (2002), the United Nations have declared the years 2005-2014 as the World Decade of “Education for Sustainable Development”.

This sustainability rests on three pillars: social justice, ecological viability and economic performance. By distinguishing projects which address these problems, Austria's contribution to the UN Decade is made visible.

The UNESCO distinction for “fFORTE WIT – Women in Technology“ has been justified with its successfully promoting women in technical studies, and also addressing female pupils in this project.
In order to achieve sustainablility, a fixed anchoring of this project at all faculties of the Vienna University of Technology is aimed for. With the award by the Austrian UNESCO commission, this goal has received important support.

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