Essen College of Gender Studies


The interdisciplinary research programme of the College focuses on developing a differentiated understanding of biological phenomena and social contexts and elucidating their backgrounds. This is currently happening in four joint research clusters, which deal with central social questions including historical, cultural and intersectional perspectives. As the integrative main themes under which research, doctoral and postdoctoral projects are conducted, they also offer opportunities for university-wide research cooperation. A good overview of central research topics in each cluster
can be found in the UNIKATE special issue 41 Geschlechterforschung. Blick hinter die Kulissen, published by the College in summer 2012,

Gender-equitable medical care | gender-equitable health care

The relevance of biological, sociocultural and psychological aspects of gender to gender-equitable medical care is evident in many fields of the public healthcare system. Research in this particular cluster (responsible scientists: PD Dr. Andrea Kindler-Röhrborn and Prof. Sigrid Elsenbruch) takes into account the increasing importance of valid results in gender research, particularly with respect to development towards personalised medicine and pharmacotherapy.

In 2012 and 2013 existing cooperation intensified and additional funds from Federal Ministries and the German Research Foundation (DFG) were secured: collaboration continued with the University of Münster and the Leibnitz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology (BIPS) within the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) joint project “Gender-sensitive Research in Epidemiology, Neuroscience and Genetics/Tumour Research” and a further BMBF collaborative project with the University of ­Münster on the development of a gender-sensitive teaching module in the medical sector, resulting in another joint proposal. Two sub-projects of the DFG Research Unit 1581 “Extinction Learning: Behavioural, Neural and Clinical Mechanisms” and the DFG Research Unit 1328 “Expectations and Coordination as Basic Process of Placebo and Nocebo Reaction: From Neurobiology to Clinical Application” were successfully extended. In the social sciences, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) project “Gesunde und attraktive Arbeit für Altenpflegerinnen” aims at developing strategies and measures to secure the professional capacity, commitment and motivation of women caregivers in geriatric care.

Research in this cluster is accompanied by intensive networking activities under a College initiative to establish an interdisciplinary expert network for gender research in the health sector in North Rhine-Westphalia and later extend it to federal level.

Career paths | Career worlds

A career can be seen as a path in life that either appears to be possible or impossible depending on the circumstances or “life-world”. As such, a career is tied up with perceptions of social origin or belonging to a certain milieu, with education and the opportunities for social advancement it opens up, with people acquiring general skills, and with general life choices. This interdisciplinary cluster (responsible scientists: Prof. Amalie Fößel and Prof. Anne Schlüter) takes a closer look at these issues from a historical and contemporary cultural and intercultural perspective. Within the scope of different projects funded by the BMBF, DFG, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and foundations, members of the College work on (in)equalities between women and men at universities, disciplinary cultures, career expectations and development of women students and graduates, and the effectiveness of mentoring in transitional processes from student to professional life. Current research also includes a ­habilitation project on the wives of crusaders as temporary regents in the High Middle Ages, a project tracing the career path of a forgotten Australian woman artist, and selected dissertation topics within the DFG Research Training Group 1919 “Precaution, prevision, prediction” of the Historical Institute, which was launched in 2013 in collaboration with Prof. Amalie Fößel.

Gainful Employment and Care Work

This cluster (responsible scientists: Prof. Christine Wimbauer and Dr. Ute Pascher-Kirsch) comprises research dealing with the basic conditions and impact of economic and social policies and the corresponding legal provisions on establishing gender equality in the two major socio-economic fields of care work and gainful employment. ­Priority is given in this context to considering the interdependency of these two fields and their effects on the gender relationship.

Funded by the DFG, members of the College investigate what makes partners respect each other, the existence of social imbalance, and the relationship between love and achievement. The MERCUR project “Väter in Elternzeit. Aushandlungs- und Entscheidungsprozesse zwischen Paar und Betrieb” will look at the reasons for differences in fathers claiming parental leave, and the associated opportunities and drawbacks in terms of education, income, migration background and regional setting in Germany. At an international level, members study the wage effects of flexible work arrangements for women in Spain and are active in coordination of the Regional Studies Association Research Network “Entrepreneurship, Gender and Structural Transformation”.
Selected doctoral theses look into the life ­histories of fathers with their own or family experience of Turkish-German migration, changes in masculinity in the knowledge economy and research-oriented gender equality policy. Since 2013, doctoral students from three universities have been researching as members of the graduate research group “Leben im transformierten Sozialstaat (TransSoz): Zielgruppenspezifische Reformwirkungen und Alltagspraxen” (co-speaker: Prof. Ute Klammer) how changed socio-political measures and services have an impact on the lifestyle of adolescents, the elderly, gainfully ­employed people, parents, people with care responsibilities, and migrants.

Perception | Representation | Visibility

This research cluster (responsible scientist: Prof. Patricia Plummer) brings together research approaches to gender-specific differences and commonalities in perception, representation and (in)visibility of women and men in language and images. The research questions in the represented subjects and disciplines are investigated in literature, art and language as well as in ­society, media and politics. This cluster likewise has an interdisciplinary base and connects historical and contemporary research, which often contains an intercultural perspective. Selected projects by the members include participation
in the international interdisciplinary research network “Gender and Sexuality in (Neo-)Orientalism and Occidentalism: An Entangled History of European and Middle Eastern Identity Discourses”, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for ­Scientific Research NWO, and a project currently in preparation on “Gendering Muslim Identities”. Doctoral projects deal with gender stereotypes in the production and reception of profiles in online business networks, the impact of styling on the evaluation of women executives, and the portrayal of gender in post-colonial Arab literature.
Research beyond the presented EKfG research clusters includes a BMBF project with Prof. Gisela Steins as participating researcher. The project is conducting a differentiated analysis of inconsistencies in gender concepts in education, which on one level still work towards reducing traditional gender differences, but on another tend to accentuate them.

The Future Field of “Diversity Research”

The College has set itself a new challenge in raising awareness of the gender dimension in the broad field of diversity research at the University and supporting its networking activities. Within the scope of the UDE’s diversity research initiative, the College, together with the chair of Postcolonial Studies and the Pro-Rectorate for Diversity ­Management, is significantly involved in helping to identify research priorities and lay the foundations for potential cooperation projects. Based on the survey on diversity research at the UDE led
by the College in 2012 to systematically record research on social, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity and heterogeneity, a database has been set up of some 60 cooperating scientists, their ­affiliations, research interests, projects and publications.