Thematic Intersections for all Disciplines

Colourful legobricks.

Colourful legobricks.
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Gender- and diversity-conscious teaching also means integrating and addressing gender and diversity as content for learning and teaching. Freie Universität Berlin has set the long-term goal of promoting gender and diversity in teaching and has committed to this objective in its Guidelines on the Promotion of Women, its Diversity Mission Statement, and its Equality Concept. Thus, almost every degree program already accounts for gender and diversity in its charter. Freie Universität Berlin has a total of six professorships wholly or partly designated for Women’s/Gender Studies or diversity (link) as well as several professorships for which gender and diversity are part of the extended job description.

This page will provide further information on three themes for which you can integrate gender and diversity as content for teaching and learning. Using the questions for each theme, you can identify specific content connections for your field.

More on this under Implementation Options and Discipline-Specific Entry Points as well as under Good Practice (in German).

The three themes are based on proposals for integrating a gender perspective into teaching and learning that were devised by the Women’s and Gender Research Network NRW. They emerged from an analysis of Women’s and Gender Studies curricula developed by experts in various academic fields and represent minimum standards that “in every subject can contribute to a gender-equitable degree program and a gender-sensitive occupational qualification” (Becker et al. 2006: 55)



Deconstructing professional history relates to the occupational performance of activities for which the degree program is preparing students and relates to transitional periods – between education and career, for example. Discuss the historical processes of these professions’ emergence and evolution, but also current factors and trends. Your teaching can analyze aspects on the individual, institutional, and societal levels using questions such as the followings:

  • What formal and informal rules govern entry into this career? What are their implications for gender and diversity?
  • What are the histories of careers and jobs related to your research area or the names of those occupations?
  • What are the roles of visible and invisible members of disadvantaged social groups?
  • Are there hierarchies of academic and occupational research areas tied to social power relations? Are there sub-fields considered to be “hard” and “soft”?
  • Which activities and skills are central to the profession? Who is associated with the required capabilities? Who is disassociated from them?
  • Who do people interact and communicate with professionally? How can those people’s diversity of lived realities be taken into account? Are there prejudices or stereotypes that might have an effect?
  • What inequalities can be observed on the job market for this field, both inside and outside of the academy, in terms of gender relations, migration background, disability, and other relationships of inequality? What implications can this have for organizational and HR policies that aim to counter these hierarchies? How can this profession be reconciled with various personal ways of life?
  • Are there gender- and diversity-related wage gaps?
  • Are there gender- and diversity-related differences in opportunities for professional development?



Although the profession of schoolteacher was once exclusively practiced by men, there is now a relatively high percentage of women schoolteachers. This percentage depends on the type of school and drops considerably for higher administrative roles, such as school principal. Deconstructing these gender relations and their significance for school and teaching is highly relevant to teacher training. This might take the form of a critical discussion about stereotypes regarding male and female elementary school teachers and their function as role models for schoolchildren. Since 2010, the University of Hildesheim Foundation has given its students the opportunity to deconstruct these occupation-related issues (Hastedt/Lange 2012).

When deconstructing the history of the legal profession, you can address the occupational ban on Jewish lawyers under Nazi rule.

You can find more specific suggestions for several disciplines, such as networks and scholars’ biographies, under Discipline-Specific Entry Points.


Hastedt, Sabine, und Silvia Lange, Hrsg. 2012. Männer und Grundschullehramt. Diskurse, Erkenntnisse, Perspektiven. Bielefeld: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Academic critique of one’s discipline encompasses the history of the discipline and all processes of knowledge production. The type of language used, whether formal or informal, plays a role. The specific learning and academic culture of your discipline is especially relevant to your teaching. You can address this by asking the following questions:

  • What is the dominant understanding of science/scholarship? What is the common image of your discipline? Is science/scholarship perceived as a career or a calling?
  • What are the field’s cultural customs and how do they relate to the observance or neglect of aspects of gender and diversity? How widespread is a culture of open, democratic discussion? How hierarchical is the discipline’s structure?
  • Are questions of epistemology and the discipline’s methodology debated? Are gender and diversity addressed as analytical categories for knowledge-production processes?
  • What paradigm shifts and academic debates have taken place? What content is in the foreground and what is at the margins of the discipline? What roles have women and members of disadvantaged social groups played in debates over content and academic approaches, and what role do they play now?
  • What roles have gender-based and other inequalities played in the discipline’s distribution of tasks, external perception, and interpersonal power distribution? Who represents which aspects? Who plays the part of expert – in what area?
  • How are gender-based and other inequalities perpetuated or broken down by the way the discipline is practiced?
  • Is the terminology and the communication employed between all the people involved in the academic department inclusive or exclusive? Are women and members of social groups that are underrepresented at the university made visible verbally, visually, and in other media? When this is done, are stereotypes avoided? What examples, questions, and wordings are chosen?
  • When drawing up curricula, what role is played by the work and biographies of women academics and members of social groups that are underrepresented at the university?
“The central aim is to embed life stories into their historical context and the associated exclusions and inclusions of women. In this seminar, our purpose is not to elevate these women as ‘exceptional cases.’ That would merely codify them in an ‘exotic’ status and perpetuate the notion that women could only be creators ‘by way of exception.’ This approach allows us to develop new perspectives on the traditional cultural history of disciplines.”
Gender Portal of the University of Duisburg-Essen

Some disciplines’ classification as a natural science versus a social science/humanity is contested. In some cases, the classification has shifted historically or led to the development of different subfields, as in geography or psychology. You can discuss the related associations and value assessments in your teaching.

In sociology, for instance, sociology of work frequently emphasizes payed work. A gender- and diversity-conscious perspective reveals that this disregard for unpaid reproductive work such as housework and care for family members simultaneously excludes from analysis an unequal distribution of labor based on gender, migration, globalization, etc.

You can find more concrete suggestions under Discipline-Specific Entry Points, for example, how to discuss the history of STEM disciplines with more nuance by focusing on the lives of lesser-known but important and influential scholars and theorists.

  • When developing research questions and designs, have the researchers considered how and whether factors such as gender relations, global poverty and wealth relationships, racism, and ableism affect the research topic? To what extend do research questions reproduce existing gender-based and other inequalities?
  • Is there an assessment of the impact and implications of specific research on the perpetuation or modification of gender relations and other inequalities (such as a technique impact assessment, a legal impact assessment, etc.)? Has future usage been thought through from a gender and diversity perspective and/or explicitly addressed? (Compare the debate over excluding military research from German universities)
  • Are the research results tailored to users’ varying needs? If they are, has the process of doing so avoided reproducing existing stereotypes?
  • Familiarize yourself and your students with accessibility criteria. These are relevant to everything from app programming to urban planning to machine design. Accessible design improves results for a variety of users. You can also analyze the problems and costs created by neglecting accessibility.
  • Gender and Diversity Studies can be employed as a reflective science for analyzing the processes of developing techniques. You can find an example of a teaching and learning concept along these lines for engineering here.


Lucht, Petra. o. J. Usability und Intersektionalitätsforschung – Produktive Dialoge. 37 – 52.

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