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Communication and Advisory Skills

  • Developing your gender- and diversity-conscious communication skills also means paying special attention to discrimination in communication situations. This improves your ability to notice discriminatory language used by yourself and others and to offer alternatives. The Starter Kit includes a guide on gender-appropriate and racially sensitive language as well as language about disability. Training programs for higher education also help you perceive and handle group dynamics such as the dynamics of conflict and relationship as well as difficult teaching situations.
  • Communication situations can improve when everyone involved understands how a statement can change “in transit” between the sender to the recipient and realizes the role of the power structures within which communication takes place (such as the relationship between lecturer and student). In your teaching, you do not only convey facts and knowledge, you also communicate on an interpersonal level. The Communication Square is one helpful way to think about the different levels of communication.
  • Paying attention to whether and when you, your colleagues, or your students practice particularly dominant or restrained speech behavior can help you identify hierarchies in communication situations. You can also observe your own reactions: Do you respond to students’ contributions differently? Do you give everyone equal opportunities to participate? Do unconscious stereotypes play a role in some of the differences in evaluation? The Methods section points out participatory methods that you can use to get as many students involved as possible. This study investigates the potential effects of stereotypes and prejudices on test scores using the example of the bar exam to practice law.
  • Teaching does not happen in a vacuum. Often, discrimination that happens in teaching situations also has its origins outside of university and can occur outside the classroom. Even with an excellent choice of methods and deliberate communication, you will not be able to fully eliminate discrimination. Nevertheless, at university, you can take part in efforts to construct a learning environment where everyone can learn as unimpeded by discrimination as possible. The concept of error friendliness is an example of this.
  • If students come to you with questions about their studies and their next steps to take in building up their qualifications (such as specializing, finding a research topic, or internship and volunteering opportunities), you can give them gender- and diversity-conscious advice and/or refer them to suitable contacts at the university or elsewhere. If they ask about Gender Studies, the Margherita von Brentano Center is a good point of contact. The Resources page lists other resources for social advising, conflict resolution, and other needs. To make yourself available for such questions, provide your students with contact information at the beginning of the course and explicitly encourage students to use it.
  • A positive attitude about criticism – both when you give feedback and when you receive it – contributes to gender- and diversity-conscious communication. Regularly asking your students and colleagues for their critique and feedback will improve your teaching. You can find advice about feedback and educational responses to students under Methods/From Planning to Completion.

More under: Starter-Kit, Methods, Resources


Czollek, Leah Carola, und Gudrun Perko. 2015. Eine Formel bleibt eine Formel … Gender/queer- und diversitygerechte Didaktik an Hochschulen: ein intersektionaler Ansatz (überarbeitete und ergänzte Auflage). Wien.

Goel, Urmila. 2016. Die (Un)Möglichkeit der Vermeidung von Diskriminierungen. In: Diskriminierungskritische Lehre. Denkanstöße aus den Gender Studies, Hrsg. Geschäftsstelle des Zentrums für transdisziplinäre Geschlechterstudien der Humboldt-Universiät zu Berlin.

Schumacher, Eva-Maria. 2011. Schwierige Situationen in der Lehre: Methoden der Kommunikation und Didaktik für die Lehrpraxis. 1. Aufl. Opladen [u.a.]: Budrich.

Version April 2017. Unless otherwise stated, this content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licence.