Essen College of Gender Studies

Whether you are a man or a woman makes a big difference in everyday life. Exactly where and how is the subject of Gender Studies, which researches the relationship between the genders, between “male” and “female”, “masculine” and “feminine”, in various areas of society, such as labour, science, medicine, law, institutions and organisations, education, the media, history and politics. Since neither the male nor the female experience taken on its own provides a holistic view of social reality, the College studies commonalities and differences in biological sex, the social constitution of gender and related gender-based inequalities as well as the intersection between gender and other differentiating factors, such as socioeconomic, ethnic and cultural background or educational inequalities, in order to arrive at concrete findings which can be of use in social practice.

Gender Orders in Flux

The interdisciplinary research focus on gender orders in flux looks at society and culture from a socioscientific, cultural and literary studies perspective. Topics include the relationship between love and achievement in dual career couples, whether men learn to lead while women do not, the differences between men and women in the use of web-based social networks, the effect of the “untypical” role of the female breadwinner on the gender arrangement in families and the situation in the workplace, as well as powerful women in the Middle Ages.

Some of the central themes of EKfG members within projects financed by the BMBF, DFG, EU, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and various foundations in this area include:

  • Gender orders in flux
  • Inequalities in the paid economy, changes in (paid) work, Gender and New Economy, women in decision-making positions, precarious jobs and gender
  • Gender inequalities in the distribution of care work
  • Inequalities in the education system
  • Legal regulation of gender relations, social and family policy
  • The economization of social life.

Aspects of Sex and Gender in Biomedical Research and Clinical Medicine

Male or female? In medicine, the answer to this question can be crucial for survival. Studies show that it takes longer for heart attacks in women to be diagnosed than in men. In other respects, however, the “strong sex” is at a disadvantage: male patients with adult onset diabetes receive optimal treatment to prevent subsequent disease far less frequently than women. Biological sex and social gender both play an important role in medicine.

In 2011, existing cooperation was intensified and additional funds raised from the BMBF and the DFG: as part of the BMBF collaborative project “Gender/Sex-sensitive Research in Epidemiology, Neurosciences and Genetics/Tumor Research”, scientists from the College led by PD Dr. Andrea Kindler-Röhrborn are working on a survey of existing sensitivity to gender issues in genetics/ tumour research and conducting research on the biological basis of the sex-specific causes of thyroid carcinoma in men and women. A second BMBF cooperative project with the University of Münster titled “Gender-Sensitive Teaching Modules in Medicine” is concerned with raising awareness of sex/gender differences between male and female patients among prospective doctors through new teaching concepts. Its aim is to collect existing knowledge on sex/gender differences and to make it an integral part of the curriculum in medical faculties in Germany.

Aspects of sex and gender in biomedical research and clinical medicine are also the focus of two sub-projects led by Professor Sigrid Elsenbruch in the DFG Research Unit 1581 “Extinction Learning: Neural Mechanisms, Behavioral Manifestations, and Clinical Implications”, and the DFG Research Unit FOR 1328 “Expectation and conditioning as basic processes of the placebo and nocebo response: from neurobiology to clinical applications”.

The Future Field of “Diversity Studies”

At the initiative of the College and in cooperation with the Pro-Rector for Diversity Management and the Chair of Postcolonial Studies, Professor Patricia Plummer, work has begun on a “Diversity Studies at the University of Duisburg- Essen” concept. The aim is to increase the visibility of diversity studies at the University, identify existing and future central topics of research, network collaborating scientists and institutions and use synergies in interdisciplinary projects.