Thematic Fields

Gender, diversity and language

Language is not a simple tool to describe the world; rather, language shapes our perception of the world and thus our understanding of gender and diversity. Representations of difference are expressed through language, images and other signs. Furthermore, the monolingualism of most educational and professional settings marks legitimate languages and devalues others. This thematic field will focus on the ways in which gender, race, class, age and dis/ability are represented in language. We will discuss changing understandings of gender and diversity, which need to be implemented in ‘new’ language, and to exchange possibilities to enhance a respectful and inclusive use of language in higher education and in public spaces.

Women in leadership positions

In organizations, gender and diversity contribute greatly to creativity and innovation. In recent years, an increasing number of women have reached high hierarchical positions in various areas. This thematic field aims at bringing together women in leading positions from higher education as well as various other fields and researchers to discuss women’s journeys to leadership in organizations. As other categories of difference also influence the organizational success, the thematic field asks in what ways these categories influenced women’s career paths and what organizational measures facilitate their advancement.

Meritocracy, excellence & inequality

The images of genius artists, excellent scientists, influential managers and politicians have begun to become more diverse over the last decades. Diverse teams are regarded as more successful (‘added value’) in many areas of society. Simultaneously, the supposedly neutral merit criteria used to measure performance, excellence and success continue to reproduce norms of masculinity, whiteness, heterosexuality and ableism. Thus, in many places, meritocracy still fosters inequality. Moreover, excellence requirements often actually seem to counteract the idea of gender equality or diversity. This thematic field discusses ways to deal with this tension between excellence and diversity that increasingly permeates neoliberal institutions in contradictory ways.

Institutionalized inequality and discrimination

Gender, race/ethnicity, class and other differences intersect in organizations as they also do in society. The aim of this thematic field is to tackle these intersecting processes and to analyze the efforts to build organizations that are more egalitarian and resist discrimination. With a focus on organizational inequalities, this thematic field will pay special attention to power dynamics in hierarchical settings and foster discussions on how organizations and hierarchies work, how hiring and human resources processes influence promotions, and how they might challenge inequalities and create more inclusive work environments.

Methods of knowledge sharing

This thematic field looks at the methodological side of the knowledge exchange in the realm of gender and diversity. It reflects on the conceptualization of gender and diversity knowledge and includes aspects of sensitization and awareness as well as approaches to instruments in planned processes. It also includes the question of participation, e.g. how various types of knowledge are articulated and what types of knowledge can make itself heard. This includes institutions of learning (universities, schools etc.) and education politics as well as institutions in the field of culture, business, and politics that build up gender & diversity knowledge.