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Overcoming The Gender Gap: New Concepts Of Study In Technological Areas

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

International and Sustainability Perspectives and Women in Engineering

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.979.1 - 11.979.10



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Paper Authors


Nina Dahlmann Technische Universitat Berlin, Inst. f. Mathematik

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Sabina Jeschke Technische Universitat Berlin, Inst. f. Mathematik

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Christian Thomsen Technische Universitat Berlin

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Marc Wilke Technische Universitat Berlin

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Overcoming the Gender Gap: New Concepts of Study in Technological Areas


Despite extensive social changes and intensive political efforts to establish equal opportunities, women are still a minority in the fields of natural science and technology studies, as well as in the related professional fields.

The causes for this female “technical abstinence” discussed in literature can be divided into five areas, all highly interlocked and interconnected: the attitude of society, pre-academic education, differences in the access to technology as well as in self-evaluation and finally the image of technological studies. In this talk we concentrate on the latter point and discuss how technology related studies can be designed in order to match female interests.

While it is necessary to reform existing curricula, a second, no less relevant problem has to be to considered. Changes in technology-related studies have to be communicated quickly to potentially interested parties which poses a problem in itself: prejudice and the perceived technocratic image are so deeply rooted that modifications and modernizations are often barely noticed. Modernization of these studies should therefore be accompanied by the development of completely new models for technology-oriented studies explicitly addressing the interests of women, in particular concerning inter- and multidisciplinary aspects.

The project GENESIS, located at Technische Universität Berlin, funded by the European Social Fund, is developing several models of co-educative, gender-sensitive model-courses within the three major areas of natural sciences, computer sciences and engineering. These courses and their underlying concepts will be presented in this talk.

1. Introduction: The Image of Technological Studies

A lack diversity in technical conception and development reduces the potential of ideas and innovation within a society, as well as the quality of products, resulting in a loss of competitiveness for a business. For companies, the absence of women in the technical fields amplifies another problem: the long and medium-term demand for qualified specialists is increasing and can no longer be satisfied by men alone. Technical studies are connected to a disadvantageous image that completely conflicts with feminine preferences and approaches and keeps young women, and increasingly, even young men away13.

• Technocratic Image: Technology oriented studies often show an unattractive image of engineering – technical theory and technical implementation stressed as a means to an end – that disregards the social relevance and individual perception. The result is often the impression of a soulless technology as a means to an end, instead of matters of beauty and fascination. That poses less of a problem for men, who, due to a certain passion for technology within

Dahlmann, N., & Jeschke, S., & Thomsen, C., & Wilke, M. (2006, June), Overcoming The Gender Gap: New Concepts Of Study In Technological Areas Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--769

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