Technische Universität Wien
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Gender Studies have evolved from women's studies, and now comprise women's, men's and gender studies. They focus on the central significance of gender in science and society as a whole. Thus there is hardly a field in which gender has no importance, and in which it makes no difference whether an individual moves in it as a “woman” or a “man”. Gender is not conceived of as a natural given, but as subject to mechanisms of social and cultural construction. This means that gender studies inquires into how individuals become “men” and “women”, and what these processes implicate.

So far, the absolute majority of students at the TU Vienna complete their studies without ever being explicitly confronted with gender-specific issues. In most technological or science disciplines, the gender dimension is entirely lacking.

Is technology gendered?

The quanitative ratio in science and technology fields of study alone are suggestive of gender specific differences in dealing with technology. However, there is also a qualitative aspect: Technology in our society is not gender-neutral, but its use is embedded in a social system of gender-specific attributions and clichéd images relating to technological expertise.

Established everyday theories on technology and gender presuppose a basic difference between women and men, and bring members of both groups into a hierarchical relationship with each other. Our everyday theory on technology and gender might be formulated something like this: “Men/boys are competent in relation to technology, and remain so unless definitively proven otherwise. Women/girls are not competent in relation to technology, and they also remain so unless definitively proven otherwise!”

Can we conceive of a different technology?

By introducing the category of gender, questions critical of science are raised within the respective discipline and within the hierarchy of disciplines. Processes of technology organisation have enormous socio-political importance, their negotiation takes place within the structures of society, gender and technology. Accordingly, we can surmise that the preference for specific technologies – and the according rejection of alternative technolgy concepts – can be explained with social agreements which mirror, amongst others, the gender relations in our society. Against the background of technological change which impacts on every aspect of our public and private lives more than ever, participation in processes of technology organisation gains increasing relevance. So far, a participative and gender sensitive organisation of technology is still in its fledgling stages. Integrating the dimension of gender into courses at the TU is one step in this direction.