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Gender Curricula Political Science/Politics

Course: Political Science
Group of courses: Law, Economics and Social Sciences

Course objectives:

Students should be taught the basic theories, empirical findings and methodological concepts of women's and gender studies in politics. Students should recognise the significance of gender as an intersectional category. Gender is deeply interwinded with other social relations of differentiation and hierarchy such as class, race, age, religion or sexuality. It is important in all sub-disciplines of political science such as political theory, political systems in comparison, the German political system, international relations, methods and methodologies. They should learn the different methodological and theoretical approaches of feminist political science and be taught to apply these on a theoretical and empirical basis in the various sub-disciplines.

As many politics graduates go on to work in politics-related areas of public administration, political institutions and organisations, the media, and political education, they should also develop practical gender competence for their later areas of work. A basic knowledge of gender theory, equality policy and gender mainstreaming are an important basis for using gender competence in professional life, with the aim of breaking down gender discrimination.

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Teaching content/subject-specific gender studies content:

Gender studies in politics regards gender as a central category in society, one which underlies all political institutions and interactions. Gender is thus understood as a process and a structural category. This means:

  1. its effect is studied as a constitutive form for example through the granting or withholding of extensive political participation rights (e.g. the right to vote).
  2. The category of gender is analysed as influential behaviour for example as conscious or unconscious "doing gender" in policy areas or in institutional cultures with particular gender connotations, such as administration.

Gender studies use a broad definition of politics. Within the realm of politics, policy, and polity the contradictory relations between symbolic order, political institutions, communication processes and the specific behaviour of actors are analysed. "Politics" can be understood in various ways as gendered power-play, an institutionalised form of creating legitimate decisions, a process of societal change, or a transforming, targeted interaction.
The formal and informal regulations of gender relations in this process are also referred to as "gender regimes". Gender regimes in the modern welfare state are characterised by the concomitant inclusion and exclusion of women which can be seen in the case of the principle of political equality in democratic states versus gender-based inequality in political and social practices. Gender relations and their regulations can be the explicit subject of power struggles or political decisions such as the implementation of gender mainstreaming policies in the EU. Specific gender perceptions can be found at the basis of all policies and institutions and actor's gendered perceptions shape policie.

Theoretical and empirical feminist political science thus covers a broad spectrum of subject areas, using different empirical methods and theoretical approaches in the sub-disciplines. The following list is based on the subject structure of the German Political Science Association:

Political theory

  • Basic definitions in politics: critical re-reading of terms such as power, justice, state, politics, institution, participation, representation, public/private, violence, democracy
  • Gender relations and knowledge production, history and theory of sciences, gender and feminist theories
  • Classics of political theory: critique of androcentricity in classic theory (image of women, naturalisation of domestic role and women's "distance from politics"), making feminist approaches and authors visible
  • Modern political theory, particularly feminist state and democracy theory, theories of gender justice, citizenship, gender democracy, intersectionality

Comparative politics

  • Institutional foundations: welfare states and gender regime in different European countries; state and gender, history of women's movements, current social and women's movements
  • Political processes: particularly policy-learning approaches, norm diffusion, decision theories, articulation/problem definition and agenda-setting and implementation of policies, processes of compliance/adaption/translation
  • Policy analyses, particularly in selected fields relevant for gender issues, such as labour, women's, family, health, social policy, and more recently also finance policy (gender budgeting) and migration, human rights, anti-discrimination, foreign and security policy
  • European domestic policy: articulation and implementation of gender norms in/through EU institutions (the Commission, EP, EuGH, Council), political representation of gender on the European level, gender mainstreaming in European policy, the role of gender policies of the member states, the gender policy effects of the expansion process, further development of theories of European integration
  • International comparison of gender regimes, culture and gender
  • Transformation studies: the role of women and women's movements in authoritarian and democratic settings, the role of gender relations in political and social transformations of the countries of the South, gender and peace/war, gender and violence
  • Area studies: politics, polity, policies in all world areas, globalization and it's impact, orientalism and racism, gender relations in the global south

Domestic politics and political system in Germany

  • Institutional foundations: gender cultures of institutions, gendered history of institutions (voting rights, representation of women), analysis of gender regimes
  • Public debate and representation of interests: participation of women in the political system and its central institutions/organisations (parties, associations, parliament, elections), the role of women's movements
  • Policy analysis: transformation of the welfare state (labour, social, family and women's policy), but also finance and security policy, migration/integration policy, gender mainstreaming
  • Politics in multi-layered systems/Germany in the European Union: the role of national policy for institutional and policy-dependent development of EU gender policy, implementation of EU gender policy

Foreign policy and international relations

  • Basic issues and theories of international relations: feminist critique and further development of central theoretical approaches (neorealism, idealism, institutionalism/regime theory, constructivism)
  • Foreign policy: little research to date, representation of women in diplomacy and foreign policy, gender mainstreaming in foreign policy
  • Institutions and processes of international policy: representation of women in international organisations and processes, globalisation and gender, migration as a new subject of international relations, international and transnational women's movements, transnationalisation of gender norms, particularly of women's/human rights, the special role of the United Nations and the women's conference, UN Decade of Women, implementation and effect of CEDAW (UN convention on anti-discrimination and protection of women), development policy
  • Security policy, peace and conflict research: conceptional critique of core terms (war, peace, security, violence), engendering specific processes of dealing with conflict, mediation and peace-making, role and situation of women, men, boys and girls in specific conflicts and wars

Methods and Methodology

  • Basic philosophy of science: critique of androcentrism and positivism, gender images in the history and philosophy of politics
  • Qualitative and quantitative methods (including statistical procedures): particularly mixed methods and triangulation, intensive consideration of ethnographic research, reflection of the role of gender in the research process
  • Methods of comparison: developing in recent years, mainly in feminist policy research, methodology in area studies


  • Gaining gender competence for political institutions and organisations, mainly with a view to implementing gender mainstreaming and equality policy
  • Gaining knowledge of gender dimensions in various policy areas, sensitisation to disadvantages, particularly in combination with other structural categories such as ethnic/religious background and social stratum (intersectionality)
  • Knowledge of specific programmes and measures such as "Total E-Quality" or "Audit Familie und Beruf", "Familiengerechte Hochschule" or corporate diversity management plans, awareness of the problems of developing and implementing gender-sensitive and gender-inclusive measures

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Integration of gender studies content into the curriculum:

Gender studies has entered all research areas of political science, so that special modules on each sub-discipline are just as conceivable as introductory seminars. Essentially, the gender issue cuts across the entire discipline. The above content, theories and empirical findings should therefore be integrated into all basic and advanced classes in the sub-disciplines of politics. To do so, all sub-disciplines would have to address theories of gender and gender relations and their current empirical forms. This cannot be expected in all cases, considering the current conditions and mainstream orientation of teaching staff.

Introductory seminars and lectures in Bachelor's courses should integrate a block on theories of gender relations and the findings of gender studies in politics in the relevant areas. Gender as a structural category in society should be made transparent in all subjects of introductory seminars. In teaching on methodology, students can apply the empirical methods they learn to subject areas from the field of gender studies.

If it proves impossible to integrate the content of women's and gender studies in political science into the above sub-disciplines in a systematic and comprehensive manner, we recommend offering specific gender seminars in the sub-disciplines. These seminars should introduce students to core concepts of gender studies in political science by means of examples, and should be integrated into the Bachelor's phase (e.g. Introduction to Feminist Policy Research, Introduction to Feminist International Relations, etc.). They can be offered for all sub-disciplines (political theory, comparison of political systems, international politics, German domestic policy and system, methodologies) in line with the subject areas outlined above.

In the Master's phase, selected themes in the individual sub-disciplines should be dealt with in more detail. This should be done with the orientation and specialisation of the respective university in mind, in close coordination with the other faculty members. Master's modules can also be offered for all sub-disciplines (political theory, comparison of political systems, international politics, German domestic policy and system, methodologies) in line with the subject areas outlined above.

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Degree Stage:

The basic content should be mainly integrated into the introductory seminars of the Bachelor's degree (1st to 3rd semester). The content of the in-depth modules should form part of the later semesters of Bachelor's degrees (3rd to 6th semester) and Master's programmes.