Deutsch  

Geography

Course: Geography
Group of courses: Mathematics, Natural Sciences

Teaching/course objectives:

Students should gain insights into the theory, methodology and practice of gender studies in geography, related to applications and using examples from selected sub-disciplines of geography (e.g. urban, economic, social, population and physical geography). Students should be able to take gender relations into account in recognising, understanding and analysing spatial and societal structures and processes and the way they influence each other.

Teaching content/subject-specific gender studies content:

The focus of gender studies in geography is on the complex relationship of "space" and "gender". Both "space" and "gender" are constituted by society: societal structures including gender relations influence the spatial organisation of a society, while spatial structures and processes also take effect on conditions in society, including the organisation of gender. For example, the division of paid and reproductive labour in the process of industrialisation was accompanied by a differentiation also gender-coded of spaces (division between "public" and "private" spaces, functional division, etc.), which reproduced and cemented a gendered allocation of tasks and roles along with gender stereotypes.

On a theoretical level, anthropogeography deals with various ways of conceiving "space" (e.g. space as territory vs. space as a process constituted by society) and addresses various concepts of "gender". Further subject areas include feminist critique of epistemological approaches to geography and a gender-sensitive approach to the sociological and historical aspects of geography as a discipline. These theoretical approaches form the basis of gender research in the various geographical subject areas.

The geographical sub-disciplines and the working focus of the institutes and faculty in question raise specific issues and subject matter.
Below we list several examples of subject areas in anthropogeography, highlighting central issues and topics.

In the area of spatial socialisation, gender studies in geography looks into children's and young people's perception, use and appropriation of space (according to age, gender, social strata, origin, etc.). This work focuses on questions of:
The influence of "gender" on the use and appropriation of space (Do boys make different use of their surroundings than girls? Do girls have different design requirements of (urban, suburban and rural) spaces than boys? If so, what causes these differences?)
The influence of spatial design and use on the constitution of "gender" (What effects do the design, perception and appropriation of space have on the formation of various forms of masculinity and femininity? To what extent do these processes reproduce traditional gender roles and stereotypes, and to what extent can these be questioned and broken down?)

In urban research, the focus of gender studies in geography is on urban spatial structures, their production and their effects on women's (and men's) daily lives. This includes such subjects as:

  • Gender connotations of residential space, urban spaces and structures, and traffic and transport structures (e.g. allocations of space to certain gender roles through residential layouts, gender connotations of private and public urban spaces or particular areas such as suburbs, design principals of urban structure such as division of functions or spatial and temporal structures of public transport provision)
  • The effects of residential and urban spaces, urban and transport structures on women's options for using and appropriating space in various life situations
  • Urban myths and their gender connotations.

In labour market research, gender studies in geography provides insights into gender-specific differentiations on labour markets in certain spaces. Subjects include:

  • (Spatial) structural backgrounds to gender-specific differentiations of labour markets
  • Industry-specific considerations of gender and work in differing spatial contexts.

In the area of migration research, gender studies in geography look at the subject of gender and migration, for example:

  • The effects of gender on migration
  • (Spatial) structural backgrounds to gender-specific migration
  • The lives of female migrants in immigration spaces.

In physical geography, there are no research areas of this type. Rather, gender studies in geography addresses epistemological approaches to physical geography on the basis of feminist critique of the sciences (e.g. issues of the understanding of nature in physical geography or methodological critique). The sociology and history of physical geography is also dealt with from a gender-critical perspective.

Forms of integration of gender studies content into the curriculum:

As gender aspects are relevant for all areas of human geography (and in physical geography mainly on the epistemological level), we recommend integrating these aspects into the existing curriculum for all areas and modules.

A module on "Geography and gender" is suitable for integration into first-semester courses carried out in all geography degrees on "Introduction to geography", covering one to two sessions (90 min.). This sensitises students to gender issues from the very beginning of their degrees. Such a study element could cover, for example, the subject areas

  1. "Careers and Gender"
  2. "Gender Studies in Geography".

The following questions could form the focal point: To what extent can today's students' careers be influenced by their gender? What is behind this influence? Which gender structures can be identified in various professional areas? Part 2) can offer insights into examples of various areas of gender studies in geography (e.g. population geography, spatial socialisation, geography of (paid) labour, urban and transport planning, "developing countries" research, geography of rural space).

Should it prove impossible to integrate gender issues further into existing modules, we recommend developing an independent module on "Geography and gender", ideally offered in the third year of study, which could be made up of the following seminars/lectures:

  • Lecture/seminar on "Basic Gender Studies in Geography" with the following elements:

    • Feminist theories/basic theories of gender studies (women's studies, gender studies, masculinity research, gender research, etc.; constructions of "gender")
    • Introduction to gender studies in geography (development of gender studies in geography; epistemological and sociological aspects; subjects covered, etc.)
    • Research fields in various sub-disciplines

  • Lecture/seminar on "Methodology of Gender Studies in Geography" with the following elements:

    • Introduction to concepts, terms and perspectives of feminist critical epistemologies
    • Introduction to various methods of empirical social research
    • Critique of methods on the basis of feminist theories
    • Aim: Students should gain skills for independent use of methodologies in their own work.

  • Seminar "Advanced Gender Studies in Geography" with the elements:

    • Addressing issues of gender studies in geography in more depth in selected subject areas
    • Independent, guided implementation of a minor research project on the subject of gender studies in geography with the following steps:

      • Formulating a research topic in gender studies in geography
      • Producing a research plan, using the methodologies and critique of empirical social research
      • Processing the research question and presenting the findings
      • Aim: Students should learn and practice skills for independent use of methodologies in their own work

Degree stage:

The above content should be integrated into Bachelor's degrees from the fourth semester onwards and into teacher training degrees, should these not be offered as Bachelor's degrees. Gender studies in geography would ideally be dealt with in more depth in Master's degrees.

Keywords:

Geography, Space and Gender, Migration Research, Metropolitan Studies, Ecological Impact Assessment, Applied Environmental Science, Planning, Urban Planning, Geosciences, Environmental Science

Provided by
Dr. rer. nat. Katharina Fleischmann
Bauhaus Universität Weimar
Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning
katharina.fleischmann[at]uni-weimar.de

Dr. Claudia Wucherpfennig
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main
Institute of Human Geography, Geosciences
wucherpfennig[at]em.uni-frankfurt.de