Introduction

The study program GENDER PRO MINT at the TU Berlin is a target specific study program to train students in gender competencies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). These gender competencies include comprehensive and field-specific gender competencies as well as reflexive and creative gender competencies. Gender skills are based on knowledge of gender theories and focus on Gender Studies approaches in the STEM field in question as well as on Science & Technology Studies (STS). In particular, the ability to transfer these approaches to a study project or a qualifying thesis in a STEM field is being conveyed, aiming at the implementation of Gender Studies perspectives in science and engineering. In this way, gender competencies are related to both research results of Gender Studies and current research and development in science and engineering. (p.1)

The study program GENDER PRO MINT addresses the question of how gender and diversity knowledge can be made productive for engineering education and for the subsequent professional practice. It is not taught in addition to study courses of STEM but Gender Studies knowledge is taught in integrative ways in relation to the contents and approaches of STEM. (p.2)

The study program started in March 2012 with the introductory course “What have natural and technical sciences to do with gender?” - developed and taught since then by Bärbel Mauss. The program can be completed with a “GENDER PRO MINT Certificate I” (18 ECTS) and the consecutive “GENDER PRO MINT Certificate II” (12 ECTS) of the TU Berlin. GENDER PRO MINT is offered exclusively to the target group of bachelor, master and PhD students of the STEM at the TU Berlin. Currently, more than 200 students have registered for the study program; more than 110 students have successfully completed at least one module of GENDER PRO MINT. In November 2014, the first GENDER PRO MINT Certificates of the TU Berlin have been awarded to the first graduates at TU Berlin. (p.3)

GENDER PRO MINT is located at the Center for Interdisciplinary Women’s and Gender Studies (ZIFG), a renowned research institute with a focus on STS directed by Prof. Sabine Hark. The students may attend all courses of the ZIFG within the program as well as a variety of Gender Studies courses at other universities in the Berlin area. Study projects are supervised in cooperation with the faculties in STEM. (p.3)

This program is structured and conceptualised in ways that allow students to acquire research-based gender competencies as an integral part of their engineering education at the TU Berlin. One of the main teaching concepts of the study program is that students integrate gender and diversity aspects into given study projects in STEM. Through working on these study projects, students learn how to implement gender and diversity aspects into STEM. (p.7)

One of the objectives of the study program GENDER PRO MINT at the TU Berlin is to train students in the ability to analyse science and technology from multiple Gender Studies perspectives. Learning outcomes enable students to consider and to integrate gender and diversity needs while developing scientific knowledge, developing planning processes and developing technology.
(p.7)

Objectives

GENDER PRO MINT at the TU Berlin aims to train students in the ability to analyse science and technology from multiple Gender Studies perspectives. Learning outcomes enable students to consider and to integrate gender and diversity needs while developing scientific knowledge, developing planning processes and developing technology. (p.7)

GENDER PRO MINT offers a target group specific study program to train students in research-based gender competence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics: Research-based gender competence in STEM in the study program GENDER PRO MINT is based on current research in Gender Studies. Therefore, gender competence cannot be taught as fixed knowledge. Rather, research-based gender competence must be understood to be in process. Students in STEM at the TU Berlin are trained in research-based gender competence in the structured study program GENDER PRO MINT at the following levels of competence:

  • Reconstructive gender competence: Students acquire knowledge about key terms, concepts of Gender Studies and knowledge of important fields. They are expected to learn how Gender Studies in STEM are systematised in order to be able to reconstruct scientific studies in Gender Studies to STEM.
  • Field-specific gender competence: Students develop the skills to transfer methods as well as gendered and epistemological foundations of the scientific studies to their own area of expertise in STEM.
  • Reflexive-creative gender competence: Students in STEM develop the skills to reflect systematically on their own or internal positions and unquestioned assumptions, settings etc. in STEM. And therefore students are expected to transfer knowledge and skills about ‘gender’ and STEM to new situations through theoretical and methodological approaches.
  • Shaping gender competence: Students learn to develop and shape new projects and new questions and new approaches in their own field in STEM based on their acquired expertise in Gender Studies. (p.4)

Details

The structure of the study program is shaped in accordance with study courses of STEM fields at the TU Berlin.

Figure 1: Phases of working on a study project in GENDER PRO MINT at the TU Berlin (p. 5)
 

The study program consists of five consecutive modules (30 credits in total):

  1. Introductory Module (4/6 ECTS): The overarching question of the introductory module is: “What is the connection between science and engineering sciences on the one hand and gender on the other hand?” In this module students learn the fundamentals of Gender Studies in STEM fields starting from scientific and technical concepts, practices, designs and professional images.
  2. Advanced Module I (9 ECTS): Profile development in Gender Studies: In this module students get deeper insights into different topics of Gender Studies.
  3. Project Module (6 ECTS): The overarching question of this module is: “How can we translate the knowledge of Gender Studies in STEM into a concrete study of their own field?” In this module students reflect on the professional culture as well as on the content and practices of their own field through carrying out study projects in science or engineering science. 
  4. Advanced Module II (4 ECTS): Profile development in Gender Studies: The students get a deeper insight into the relevant fields for the final project.
  5. Final Project Module (8 ECTS): Gender and Diversity in the design of research projects and technology: The students transfer gender skills into technology and research design.
     

Graduates receive the “GENDER PRO MINT Certificate I” of the TU Berlin (18 ECTS) after having completed the third module and the “GENDER PRO MINT Certificate II” of the TU Berlin (12 ECTS) after having completed the fifth module. (pp. 3-4). Figure 2 shows a list of examples of study projects in GENDER PRO MINT.

Figure 2: Examples of study projects in STEM and analytical perspectives of Gender Studies
 

In these project modules, students learn how to consider and integrate gender and diversity aspects into their study projects as well as into their qualifying theses (BA, MA and doctoral level). The students’ study projects show that it is possible to identify, to consider and to integrate - in various ways and to various degrees - perspectives of intersectional Gender Studies within a relatively short time span of one semester into research, development and planning in STEM fields (see Figure 1). (p.5)

For more information on the GENDER PRO MINT programme: https://www.genderpromint-zifg.tu-berlin.de/

 

*This information is extracted from the paper Lucht, Petra & Mauss, Bärbel (2015). Teaching research-based gender competencies in STEM: The study program GENDER PRO MINT at the Technische Universität Berlin. Presented at the 43rd SEFI Annual Conference 2015: Diversity in engineering education: an opportunity to face the new trends of engineering.