Activities of the Section and the Function of the Section Council

At present the Section is represented by two speakers, who according to the statutes are elected at the Annual General Meeting for a term of two years. They are supported in their work by the Section Council which is also elected for two years.

The academic work and the professional activities of the Section are prepared and coordinated by the Section Council at regularly occurring meetings. These meetings are open to the entire Section, the minutes are published in the Section’s newsletter. The meeting dates are announced on the homepage.

The Section organizes regular conferences and presents events of its own at the congresses of the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie (German Sociological Association). The scientific work of the Section can also take place within working groups whose thematic focuses are set up on the individual initiative of members. These working groups can organize special conferences within the Section and in cooperation with other sections of the German Sociological Association.
The Section publishes two to three newsletters annually, which are sent electronically to the members and can be viewed on the homepage. The newsletter informs about scientific activities within the German Sociological Association and the Section: announcements of conferences, congress reports, calls for papers from national and international scientific associations, books published by members. Further, political activities, particularly concerning the institutionalization of Women’s and Gender Studies, are reported. In between conferences and the Section’s Annual General Meeting the newsletter also serves as a forum for discussion among the members.

The Section edits the series "Forum Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung" (Forum Women’s and Gender Studies) in cooperation with the publishing house “Westfälisches Dampfboot”. Within this series the current state of discussions in the field of gender studies is made accessible to a wider scientific public. A three volume textbook series was released by the publishing house Leske und Budrich.
The Section maintains a register with the names, addresses, institutional affiliations and research areas of its members. This facilitates networking along thematic, job specific or regional lines. In addition, the Section is part of the German and international Women’s and Gender Studies net of information and cooperation

A short history of the section >>>



A Short History of the Section

On 19 April, 1979 the Council of the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie (German Sociological Association) unanimously resolved to found a Section for Women’s Studies in the Social Sciences. This decision could be traced back to the initiative of the Munich section group around Lerke Gravenhorst, who served as their speaker. The next day the constituent meeting of the Section took place, at which time Gravenhorst was confirmed in her speaker’s position and Ilona Kickbusch was elected as Deputy Speaker. The Section understood itself to be part of the international women’s movement and international women’s studies. 300 women researchers from a variety of backgrounds joined the Section. In addition to networking, the Section gave itself the task of changing social science’s research and teaching through the institutionalization of women’s studies, as well as making women’s studies visible at a national level.

The scientific and political aspects constituted the greater part of the Section’s work and included: efforts to make the organization and structure of the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie (DGS) more women and women’s studies friendly, active support of women in science, the critical accompaniment of appointment proceedings, participation in the development of curricula for women’s studies and statistical inquiries concerning the situation of women in science.

Important Section activities will be described briefly below. With great tenacity the Section pursued the goal of renaming the Sociologist Day; which in German (Soziologentag) refers only to men. It took twelve years until, in 1992, the Sociology Day was renamed Congress for Sociology. Starting in 1981 the Section participated in the preparation of a university specialization in women’s studies at the University of Bielefeld, which was finally established in 1990. One of the most important and most influential activities was the arranging and carrying out of the “Women Sociologists Survey”. In 1981 the section submitted a proposal to the Council of the DGS to initiate a “Survey of the Professional Situation of Women in the Social Sciences”. Seven years went by before, in the years 1988/89, with the funding of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), the survey could be completed by Angelika Wetterer, Regina Becker-Schmidt and Ayla Neusel. The results were presented at the Sociology Day 1989 and in 1990 they were published under the title “Women and Women’s Studies in West German Sociology”. The presentation of the results lead to the DGS requesting a report providing recommended steps for the promotion of women, which was put together by the authors of the survey. As a result, the DGS resolved to initiate countermeasures in response to the under-representation of women in the universities. A further, if controversial, field of interest of the Section was the elaboration of a code of ethics for the DGS.

Contact with women in the social sciences in the German Democratic Republic was nurtured by the Section from the very beginning. Following the German reunification in the autumn of 1990, the motto of the annual conference was “One Germany—Two Patriarchs”. Of course, the discontinuities and divisions which still exist between east and west Germany are also reflected in the history of the Section. The Section is only of limited attractiveness for east German scientists, a situation which the Section puts down self-critically to the fact that not enough attention is paid to east German interests.

In addition to its political activities, the Section regards it as its responsibility to produce its own contribution to women’s studies in the social sciences. The scientific research activities find expression at annual conferences, in the events within the framework of the sociology congresses, in workshops and joint conferences with other sections, as well as with the publication of a series of books.

The question concerning their own idea of themselves has accompanied the Section from the very beginning as well. This question is reflected in the discussion about autonomy and institutionalization and in the question, To what extent ought men and masculinity be objects of feminist investigation? Starting in 1993 this debate about how they saw themselves picked up on dynamism when it became known that a Section for Gender Studies was in the process of being formed within the DGS. An intense discussion began concerning the relationship between women’s studies and gender studies and, in connection with this, a discussion about the name of the Section. If on the one hand the limits of women’s studies were criticized, which were said to be based on an uncritical simplification and simplified subject Woman, on the other hand researchers stressed the fine differentiations within women’s studies, which already very early on had been gender research. This process around the Section’s self-perception lasted eight years. In 2001, following a written survey of its members, the Section decided to rename itself “Section for Women’s and Gender Studies”. The series of books published by the Section is now called “Forum Women’s and Gender Studies”, as well.