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Gender Curricula Horticulture

Agricultural Sciences, Forestry, Viticulture, Landscaping, Landscape Architecture, Agri- and Hortibusiness, Food Studies, Biology

Course: Horticulture
Group of courses: Agricultural, Forestry and Nutritional Studies

Course objectives:

Students learn that explicit questioning of the scientific and technical learning content of the study course with regard to gender issues is a necessary element for the development of society and the individual personality. Students are able to recognise gender as a characteristic element in the various subject areas of the discipline and to shed critical light on it in order to generate sensitive action as graduates in future fields of activity as it is required today.

In contrast to agriculture, there are only a few social science subjects in horticultural sciences in which gender issues are explicitly addressed (e.g. agricultural sociology). Nevertheless, students of horticultural sciences should acquire the competence to critically reflect upon the connection between scientific culture and gender order to discover and investigate gender-specific effects of development and transformation processes in this sector and, if necessary, as graduates, to adjust their own actions accordingly and to explore individual scopes of action.

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Teaching content/subject-specific gender studies content:

Historically, horticulture with the disciplines of fruit, vegetable and ornamental plant cultivation as well as tree nursery was strongly influenced by women. Until today, it has been carried out by women as decision-makers and workers in the international context within the framework of subsistence agriculture predominating in many countries. The gender ratio is different in modern, highly globalised commercial horticulture in industrialised countries, where male plant managers dominate. In some countries, there is even a lack of female plant managers for the development of the sector (e.g. Australia and New Zealand).

Due to their importance for professional practice and the social claim to disclose power structures, an integration of gender perspectives is desirable and possible in many modules of the Bachelor and Master curricula of the seven universities at which horticultural sciences are taught (

  • economics: gender-sensitive economics statistics and gender equality indicators
  • business administration, labour and decision theory: business structures and the role of women in family horticultural businesses in Germany/Europe/world-wide; gender-specific division, organisation and remuneration of labour (gender pay gap), control of business resources, definitions of business and household
  • market theory: the historical role of women in the development of horticultural markets, gender-specific determinants of access to markets and consumer behaviour, integration of women in horticultural value chains, globalisation, world markets in agricultural and food industries
  • agricultural policy: understanding and considering gender in agricultural policy, transformation of rural areas; socio-economy of rural areas, agricultural history, international agricultural policy, globalisation and world trade, WTO, etc.
  • horticultural services: the role of women in horticultural service businesses; connection between horticultural products/services and traditional domestic divisions of labour
  • vocational education and training, vocational school internships: gender-specific aspects of job descriptions, training, learning and working techniques
  • corporate management: gender-specific elements in management models and techniques, women as operations managers
  • consulting: international consulting systems and their addressees, gender-specific aspects of interpersonal communication
  • development theory and policy: women and development; the decade of women in development policy, women as addressees of development aid, women in horticultural value chains
  • practical semester, project or internship: identifying and analysing gender-specific aspects in professional life

Further modules are: garden design, nutrition and health, urban ecology, ecology and environmental protection, resource and environmental economics, land use in the tropics and subtropics, agricultural law, agribusiness and food industry, food economics.

Theoretical approaches to gender studies in horticulture provide general scientific theories on the prerequisites, methods and goals of gaining knowledge and of the gender question, as well as feminist theories, political and economic theories, such as development theory, e.g. with regard to growth and globalisation, theories of education and vocational training, and agrarian sociology, e.g. modernisation and dichotomy of the horticultural sector, each with reference to gender concepts.

Methodical approaches are qualitative and quantitative empirical studies in all disciplines of horticulture from scientific-technical approaches to social sciences. Despite some overlaps, the specific horticultural sectors such as ornamental plant, fruit and vegetable growing and tree nurseries differ from agriculture mainly in terms of crops, labour management (manual labour) and globally in terms of gender-specific responsibilities and, above all, historically. In addition, secondary analytical evaluations of statistics, expert and biographical interviews, archival work, document and file analysis as well as participating observations are also part of the methodological approaches.

The fields of action and practice include all relevant occupational fields, such as education, science, history, business, politics as well as the media and organisations in which the analysis of gender orders, understanding of roles, representation, discrimination, equal opportunities, access to resources as well as norms and values are addressed and in which gender competences lead to an improvement in living conditions.

Gender-relevant aspects of professionalisation include the history and development of horticulture, including gender relations and hierarchies, gender-differentiated attribution of work and labour market conditions as well as role models and behaviour patterns.

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Integration of gender studies content into the curriculum:

Gender competence is the willingness, knowledge and ability to carry out personal work on an equal footing. Although gender issues should be understood as a cross-cutting task, a gender module can be an impetus for a discipline to approach the gender issue (comparable to the role of an equal opportunities officer). In horticultural sciences, no such module is currently explicitly anchored in the curricula. However, gender-related topics are taught in the social and economic sciences and dealt with in Bachelor’s and Master’s theses.

Possible topics are:

  • gender-specific data collection and analysis in various subjects
  • economic subjects: development and perspectives of operations managers in horticulture, understanding of roles, operating success, integration of women in horticultural value chains, household theory and the role of women, effects of globalisation of the horticultural sector on women (feminisation?), gender-specific consumer behaviour
  • disciplinary aspects of horticulture: ownership and access to resources for women on horticultural businesses, female labour in various business forms, the historical role of women in the development of the sector, women and technology in horticulture, consumer-oriented cultivation planning, female consumer preferences, women and subsistence production
  • natural science subjects: see the respective curricula, e.g. biology as a male instrument of power, the importance of gender relations in the natural sciences, etc.

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Degree Stage:

One compulsory elective subject in the fourth to seventh semesters that should be continued in the Master’s degree course. If the university has a chair for gender studies, it is recommendable to cooperate in order to create such a module and to offer it for horticultural sciences. There are currently several modules dealing with gender, all in English-language modules/study courses: