Karin Vosseberg, Veronika Oechtering:
Changing the Male University Culture in Informatics: the Project Informatica Feminale.
In: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Women's Worlds (WW99), Tromsø, Norwegen, Juni 1999. 


Changing the Male University Culture in Informatics: the Project Informatica Feminale

Karin Vosseberg and Veronika Oechtering
Abstract. In September 1998 a new place was created for women in Informatics: At the university of Bremen (Germany) nearly 200 female computer scientists came together to realize 2 weeks of high level university courses in informatics. Since May 1997 when the project `Informatica Feminale - Summer University for Women in Informatics' has started in the Department of Informatics at the University of Bremen, this project brings together female students and female professors all over German departments of informatics to work on new educational concepts in informatics. Three aspects are seen as focal points: new definitions of informatics curricula from women's viewpoints, creation of test-fields for new educational concepts mainly in the context of summer courses, and further education of female university staff in informatics. In this paper we first give a brief description of the project. Then we explain the concept of the `Summer Courses for Women in Informatics' and summerize the evaluation results.

1 Introduction

,,The two weeks informatics summer courses for women have been more important for me than most of the terms in my normal informatics study„ summerized a young student her experiences in the last year. What does she means with this suggestion and what do she and other female students miss in their informatics study? Which reforms of university education in informatics are necessary from women's viewpoint and which reforms are suitable in the different departments of informatics? These are the focal questions in our project ,Informatica Feminale &endash; Summer University of Women in Informatics` [1].

The aim of the project is to bring together female students and female professors or lecturers from all German departments of informatics, women from practice and women from other disciplines to work on new educational concepts in informatics and to give them the opportunity to try new forms of teaching and learning in an examplary manner. In this time of 'post-feminism' such women projects in technical disciplines are sometimes seen as relicts of the women‚s movement in the seventies which have lost their base among the new generation of students. Obviously women gained great influence on several important areas during this century, and nowadays young women can start with a high self-confidence in many areas of life. Nevertheless the gendered structures are still visible in other societal fields and institutions. Technological and academic fields can both be analyzed as excellent examples for the latter perspective (Grundy 1996).

The project Informatica Feminale should not be a repetition of the single-sex courses for women at the end of th 80th, with the aim to overcome the deficiencies faced by women and to remove their assumed fear of technology. Today young women have a high self-confidence in using technology and experiences in different projects show that they are not interested in such special treatments (?). On the contrary women are interested in changing the studying culture in the sense of a changed atmosphere and changed priorities in organisation of research (Metz-Göckel, Steck 1997). We want to open a new place to come together and create new perspectives and strategies in that field, which take the manifold interests of women in informatics in consideration.

The project can be seen in the context of the existing women network in Germany. Inside and connected to the Department of Informatics at the University of Bremen we are supported by some engaged women who have deeply been involved in discussions and projects on women in computing. This local network and several broader connections of women in computing like the Special Interest Group 'Women‚s Work and Informatics' in the German Professional Society of Informatics (GI) build another base (Oechtering/Behnke 1995, Schelhowe, Vosseberg 1991). The interest and support by these communities are essential for the project [2]. But at this time the analysis of gender-based constructions inside informatics has only started with some first steps. Too often the theme is discussed in a very general and common way. Women who are engaged in the effects of gender in information technology have to work in that field in addition to another informatics theme. Even if the importance of women‚s views on information technology is recognized the need for women‚s own test-fields in constructing new curricula contents and methods of reflection are not yet well accepted. Therefore an aim of our project is to open ways for better understanding and support for gender-based research and actions in informatics. We address all project activities to interested women all over Germany; women from other countries are welcome and already participating.


2 Project Idea

In the last years different projects have been established to increase the number of female students. But all these measurements have had no visible success until today. In our opinion it is very difficult to motivate girls to study informatics without changing the contents and image of informatics. The starting point of our project Informatica Feminale is based on an understanding of 'university' in which the main institutional interests should be definition of curricular bases, education of students, and promotion of research and teaching staff. These aspects are interconnected and cannot be separated for women equality measurements. Therefore in our project we strive a combination three elements:

Our interest is to make women visible on different levels of the academic settings in informatics and to give them a voice to take more influence in the self-understanding discussions of the discipline. The project should be like a stone falling in water and drawing circles. With each circle the women get more and more visible in the informatics community. A circle in our project begins with a workshop on curricular discussions in autumn. In this workshop the participants work out a call for lecture, which describes the context of the summer courses and invite interested women to offer a course. Then these courses are arranged in a program for the female students and a lot of public relation work have to be done. Additionally in preparation of the summer courses a lecturers meeting is organized on special educational questions, which is one aspect of further education. At the end of the summer female students and lecturers come together for two weeks and spend a time of their study together. After that highlight the next circle begins an the experiences of the circle before. The project circles are described in more detail in (Oechtering, Vosseberg 1999).


2.1 Curricula Discussions among Women

In preparation of the project Informatica Feminale Ingrid Rügge and Veronika Oechtering have organised a workshop 'Changing the Informatics Curricula - A Discussion among Women' in December 1995 in Bremen. The workshop has shown that there is a great interest among women in informatics at all points of university career and it has also become evident that there is a great potential of competent lecturers for the summer courses. This workshop encouraged us to follow up the way.

Proceeding on the general discussion [3] about German informatics curricula a first curricula workshop among women has been organised in the project Informatica Feminale in December 1997. Under the motto 'The Informatics Education: Between Scientific Findings and Acquisition of Professional Skills?' the participants of this workshop discussed their own anticipations and interests in the project. At least a concrete concept has been developed for the first summer courses in September 1998. Result of the workshop has been a public call for lecture which has been sent out among the women community in informatics and we have got back an overwhelming echo of interested women sending us their offers.

Based on the experiences of the first summer courses a second curriculum workshop `Display the Invisible. Women's Interest in Informatics Studies' has been carried out in November 1998. The discussion in this workshop concentrates on invisible aspects of studying culture, which become more evident in the evaluation of the summer courses. The workshop participants worked out slight changes in the concept of the summer courses. All information about the curricula discussions and discussion papers of participants are published on our project web pages [4].


2.2 Summer Courses for Women in Informatics

The nucleus of the project consists of a specific offer of seminars and classes in informatics on a university level. Two weeks teaching offers are designed by female professors, female scientists and women from practice in connection with curricular demands developped on the described workshops among women.

Potential participants are first of all female students of informatics in universities or polytechnics, but also students of other related disciplines or students for school teaching in informatics. The summer courses may also serve for women to refresh their studies, especially to refresh relevant professional knowledge, or to qualify them for a professional reentrance, for example after an interval of child care and education. The summer university is directed to participants all over Germany and it is open for international participants. Talks and lectures are mainly given in German, a few are in English.

Topics cover the whole spectrum of informatics, that means the domains of theoretical, practical, technical and applied informatics, and they refer to the existing German curriculum recommendations which have been published by the "Gesellschaft für Informatik". The results of current curriculum discussions are taken into account as well as experiences with curricula of specific universities or polytechnics.

The summer courses are a place where new forms of teaching and learning in informatics can be tried out in an exemplary manner. A variety of offers is supposed to be realized:

plenary sessions, lectures and panel discussions about actual subjects.

We try to arrange that the completion of summer courses will be accepted in the informatics departments of German universities. In this way students could complete parts of their studies by visiting the summer university.

Accompanied with the summer courses there are opportunities for discussions and exchange among lecturers and between lecturers and students about curricula matters, didactics, and methods of teaching, but also about individual conditions of living, learning, and working, which will be useful to help students finding their own professional orientations (Pfleeger, Mertz 1995).


2.3 Further Education of Female University Staff

Feminist studies about the declining rate of women in computer science have come to the result that one of the main obstacles for women in technical disciplines consists in structural and informal conditions of the scientific and academic culture. It is planned to install special offers for female scientists on different levels of career where such obstacles are investigated and made transparent. Such offers will consist of didactic courses or in the mediation of knowledge about structural conditions in scientific and academic fields, for example how to establish external cooperations and networks in sciences. An inquiry among female informatics professors in Germany has shown that there is a very great interest in further education. Some topics has been collected in which the women want to be engaged in: project and time management, didactic courses, supervision, education as entertainment, self-knowledge and methods of relaxation (Rügge 1997).

In preparation of the last year and this year summer courses we have organised lecturers conference. On the one hand thess meetings are a place for exchange of ideas among lecturers but we also concentrate on special educational questions. For the first meeting we invite Margret Bülow-Schramm, a professor of the didactic centre at the University of Hamburg to introduce different evaluation concepts. She gave the participants some ideas for evaluating their own lectures and a first evaluation concept of the summer courses has been developed (Vosseberg, Oechtering 1999).

On the second lecturers conference this year Minna Salminnen-Karlson gave in her talk `Teaching Female Engineering Students' an interesting overview about different swedish reform projects under gender aspects (Salminnen-Karlson 1997). In the talk it becomes evident that it is not enough for `women-friendly' teaching environments to change only the teaching form, e.g. from lecture oriented learning to project oriented learning. It is more import to look at structural conditions of the teaching environments. The discussion leads us to the question what can we learn from the first summer courses on a didactical viewpoint.


3 Concept of Summer Courses

The participants of the curricula workshops discussed the organisation of summer courses and its contents in a controversial way. Some of them wished a very strong orientation on existing German curriculum recommendations. For them it is necessary that students get the completion of the summer courses accepted in their own informatics departments. Other participants require the integration of feministic discussions into the summer courses. The Informatica Feminale should not become a stopgap for existing informatics departments. For us it was important to find the golden mean in our project concept between these contrary positions in order not to split the women's power.

Our intention is not to develop a new list of important informatics courses which are especially interesting for women. On the contrary we want to make experiments with new ways of describing an informatics curriculum. For the curriculum of the summer courses we choose a subject oriented approach. The courses will not be arranged in the classical categories: theoretical, technical, practical and applied informatics. We group the courses on the base of actual subjects in the informatics discussion. Under each subject theoretical, technical, practical and applied aspects should be discussed in one or different courses. With this we hope to break down the 'firewalls' between the classical categories of the informatics curriculum. The subject oriented approach also open the way to integrate interdisciplinary and feminist aspects, which is very import in our context.

In order not to get new 'firewalls' we have also combined all these actual subjects in a special series of lectures. This series has invited talks about common aspects of the different topics and additionally we will present women who introduce the feminist discussions. Besides the courses arranged under these actual subjects we have organised especially for undergraduate students several basic courses like programming courses in a modern programming language, system administration or Internet courses.

For the first summer courses in September 1998 we chosed three subjects: Information Networks, Software Development as a Process and Interaction and Media. All these subjects are actual topics of the general informatics discussion. But also it seems that the choosen subjects are very interesting for women. A common argument says that InformationNetworks especially the Internet show a communicative character which is well adapted to women‚s needs. The goal of the subject Software Development as a Process is to change the image of a lonely hacker culture which exclude women and their interests. The characteristic of software development is co-operation and communication of all persons involved in the software development process: clients, developer, users etc. The focus of Interaction and Media has been on actual questions of virtual reality, which is also an actual topic in women research. Table 1 shows a translation of the different courses of this first summer course program.

Series of Lectures 'Informatics in Detail Inspected
'Technology for the Future of Women ð Trends in Digital Networks ð Paradigm Change in Software Engineering ð Computers as Materials and Artifacts in Design and Use ð Tele-Work: A New Chance for Female Computer Scientists ð Virtual Confusion in Gender Relations. New Perspectives for Women‚s Life Based on Flexible Work in the Information Society ð Computer Engineering: Engineering What? ð From Algorithm to Interaction? From Machine to Medium? ð Feminist Science and Techno-Science: A Fateful Affair? ð Law in the Internet ð Trusted Systems - Security Models and Policies ð Safety at Work- A Topic for Female Computer Scientists
Information Networks

Hypertext and Hypermedia ð Electronic Publishing 
in the WWW ð Documents, Computer, and Typography ð 
Agents in the Web ð Women‚s Politics in the Internet ð Feminist Offers in the Web &endash; Motives and Perspectives of Female Web Designers ð Women-Politics-Internet ð 
Internet Support for Cooperation 
and Mediation ð 
Radio Bremen - Online Project

Software Development as a Process
Software Engineering - Historical Approach ð Computer Supported Cooperation and Communication in the Design of a Literature Database ð The Interaction between Object-Oriented Thinking and Feminist Critique: A Dynamical Connection ð Petri-Networks and System Design ð Quality Management ð User Participation: Methods, Models, and Experiences ð Software Engineering + World Wide Web = Web Engineering
Interaction and Media

From Virtual Reality to 
Graspable User Interfaces: 
New Computer Interfaces ð Special Problems of Human-Machine-Interaction ð Graph Transformation and 
Picture Production ð Is there 
an Artificial Intelligence? ð 
New Shapes of Life in the Network ð The Visible Human Project™ ð Movement is the Medium within Feldenkrais ð The Artificial Life Approach 
to Model Biological 
Systems ð Virtual Reality as Cultural Request Machine ð Natural-People or Machine-People?

Basic Courses
Programming Course in JAVA ð Searching Information in Informatics ð Writing Workshop - Female Computer Scientists Write Differently ð Preparing Information for an Interactive Access ð System Administration Course ð Web-Publishing with HTML ð Better Working in Cyberspace? Requirements on Tele-Working. Tele-Working Women ð Objectivism and Interactionism in Computing or Lifting the Spell of Science ð Informatics Education in School: Construction of Machines or Design of the Information Society? ð Women‚s Power in University ð Researcher - A Perspective for Me? ð Long Way to Dissertation ð Experiences and Perspectives of Summer Courses

Table 1: Program of the 1. Summer Courses 1998 [5]



For the second summer courses the concept has been adapted. The three subjects have been slightly changed: Networking, Software Development as a Process and Interaction and Modelling. The focus of the subject Networking is on aspects of social networking especially women networking and modern technical support. The subject Software Development as a Process has not been changed. The courses of this subject reflect many aspects of daily work of computer scientist and helps changing the image of the informatics profession. Interaction and Modelling is more an abstract view on informatics.

Working against some mis-understandings of the concept we have made some changes in the description and arrangement of the programm. Especially young students didn't understand the meaning of subjects. In which case is a course a basic course or a course arranged in one subject. And indeed, there is no definite relation for all course to a subject or to basic courses. Therefore we decided to arrange some courses in more than one subject and also basic courses are arranged in subjects. Additionally the focus of basic courses has been restricted on the aspect of de-mystification of university education. Table 2 shows the programm of the 2. summer courses in September 1999.

Series of Lectures 'Informatics in Detail Inspected
'Mixed Reality - the Extended Space of Networking Structures Teaching Programming in a Different Way Multimedia: Technology - Design - Art? Responsive Embodiment: The Interrelationship of Body and Milieu New Trends in the Internet The Interaction between Gender Studies and Informatics The Influences of Tele-Work on Organizational Design and Development of Competencies She Knows What She Wants. Women‚s Participation in Sexual Cultures in the Internet How Do We as Women Professionals Strive for Reforms in Informatics Education? The Virtual Woman Student. Gender and Distance Education: a Case Study of the Open University UK Project Work with Clients - Easy in Theory, Obstacles in Practice

The Net as Symbol and Metaphor of the Information Culture Knowledge-Net-Working Web Engineering - Information Architecture in the WWW Web-Publishing with HTML First SGML, then HTML, now XML. The "eXtensible Markup Language" as Future Web-Language?! Interactive Documents Parallel Programming with MPI Design and Use of a LotusNotes Database as example for Computer Supported Cooperation and Communication (CSCW) Introduction to Cryptology Chip-Cards - Development, Functions and Typical Uses Radio Bremen - Online Project Women‚s Politics in the Internet - Digital Networking as Instrument of Women‚s Politics Women in the Web - Is the Relationship between Women and Technology Changing? Politics in the Internet - What Offers the Web for Women? Old Boys Network Presents: Old Boys Network 

Software Development as a Process

Software Engineering - Business Processes. History and Interaction Introduction to Project Management Test Management - a contribution to Software Quality Assessment Who is Afraid of SAP? Business Systems in Practical Use Methods for Participatory Design of User-Centered Systems User-Participation: Methods, Models and Experiences Participation of Women Workers in the Software Development Process Better Working in Cyberspace? Does Tele-(Home) Working Change the Traditional Gender Relationship? Gender Studies for Technology Design Between Artifacts , Connections, and Visitors: Computer Scientists Introduce Hypermedia to a Museum CORBA -An Introduction to the Common Object Request Broker Architecture Software Development with Java Programming Course C++ Introduction to Unix-Tools awk - the Small Programming Language

Interaction and Modeling

Looking into the Inside of a Computer - from Current Memory and Logic Devices to Future Nano-Electronics Programming Languages and Poetry - Aesthetic Modeling Defining and Proofing Formal Models of Reactive Systems Trees De-scribe Colorful Pictures Logic for Computer Scientists: Handling of Formalisms in Informatics Programming Course PROLOG Introduction in SQL Multimedia meets Database Technology Software Engineering - Business Processes. History and Interaction The Interaction between Object-Oriented Thinking and Feminist Critique Object Oriented Software Development with UML Time Aspects in Work Process Management Modeling of Biological Neurons 3D-Modeling Lab Examples from the History of Interactions Between Technical Vision and Reality From Dream to Fly - 'Virtual Reality and Satellite Navigation as Topological Event Your Alien from Inner Space - Women, Technology, Cyborgs in Science-Fiction-Films Interface - the Modern Face of Medusa

Basic Courses 'De-Mystification of University Education'
Computer, Internet and Communication. It's the Mixture! ADMINA-IN-BREMEN: Java Mathematics - How Can I Start? Fight or Dance with (Automata) Theory?! Web-Publishing with HTML Writing Workshop - Female Computer Scientists Make Themselves Understood Information Searching: Libraries in the Internet Movement is the Medium within "Feldenkrais" Professionals Searched! The IT-Labor Market University ... and Good-Bye!!? Diversity and Changes in the Perception of Informatics - Consequences for a Curriculum Real and Virtual Connections of Women in Informatics 

Table 2: Program of the 2. Summer Courses 1999 [6]



4 Evaluation Results

For us evaluation of the summer courses is a very important aspect in our project. The results should influence the further curricula discussions among women and from this discussion we expect to give a fresh impetus to the ongoing general curricula and self-understanding debate in informatics. The evaluation of the summer courses took place from a didactical and a feminist viewpoint. The participants were asked to comment on the evaluation of the summer courses in general and on single summer courses especially longer courses (Vosseberg, Oechtering 1998).

In cooperation with Andrea Löding, a sociologist, we have developed two inquiries among students and lecturers: one during the summer courses and one two month later. The returning quotas of these inquiries were around 50%. Further on we organized two discussions with an integrated group of lecturers and students, one in each week of the summer event. The protocols give insights in the atmosphere and the changes of mind during a few days of communication and co-operation. Additionally, all lecturers were asked for reports on their courses and nearly 70% were sent back. In the following chapters a summarize of some evaluation results are given.


4.1 Some Statistical Facts

Table 3 there gives an overview of statistical backgrounds of the summer courses in 1998 and 1999 (in brackets).

124 (176 +?) [7]

72 (107) informatics students from universities and polytechnics

12 (25) students from other disciplines

40 (44) practitioners

49 (77) lecturers

12 (12) professors

18 (38) research assistants

14 (22) practitioners

5 (5) students

46 (71) courses

9 (13) long courses (14 * 90 min.) 

14 (34) middle courses (2 to 9 * 90 min.) 

10 (13) short courses (90 min.) 

12 (11) lectures in the series

Table 3: Participants, Lecturers and Courses in Summer Courses 1998 (1999)



In the summer courses 1998 there was a great diversity among the participants. Young and older students were equally mixed: 28 took their 1.-4. semester, 30 students were in their 5.-10. semester and 28 students studied for more than 11 semesters (the average number of semester in a informatics study is 13 semesters in Germany). Students from other technical disciplines but also from sociology or human sciences. 15% of all participants are women working in information technology jobs, which are very interested in further education on a university level. These different qualifications became difficult to handle in some courses. At the beginning the lecturers were not enough prepared on this problem. They have had to changed their own requirements. But other lecturers and most of the participants liked this great diversity among the women. The different ways of life and the experiences of women led to interesting and constructive discussions.


4.2 Motivation of lecturers and students

Compared to other science and engineering professions the situation in German informatics is in a way exceptional: there exists a certain potential of women at all levels of qualification and a relative high potential of them is organised in the Working Group ‰Women's Work and Informatics‰ (Fachausschuß Frauenarbeit und Informatik) of the German Society for Informatics (Gesellschaft für Informatik &endash; GI). This group is very engaged in promoting women's interests in informatics on scientific and political levels. At several universities there exist local groups of female computer scientists who organise single sex tutorials at informatics departments or promote gender studies in informatics and additionally, many female computer scientists are connected via an email list. On the one hand all these women feel bound to support our project and on the other hand they are very interested in making new experiences.

Experiences in other projects have already shown that single-sex tutorials at universities have a very low acceptance if they don‚t fulfill specific pre-conditions. The female students often feel that they do not need some special treatments. But they are very interested in offers which refer to actual subjects and can be seen as an additional bonus. Therefore theInformatica Feminale takes up the actual informatics discussions in the summer courses and the reaction of the students corroborate us in our concept. Espescially young students are doubtfully about single-sex courses but the took part on the basis of the interesting themes. But most of them are aware of their minority status in the informatics study. They wanted to look for contacts and to exchange their experiences.

Relating to the inquiry that we made with students two months after the summer courses the greater self-confidence of all women was impressing. Several reported that they are now looking for new contacts to other women at their departments and that they have got positive echo on their Bremen reports from others. They are looking for ways to solve their deficiencies together with other women and all (!) would like to participate again.


4.3 Intensive Working Atmosphere

During the 2-weeks summer courses lecturers and students had to work very hard. Normally a studying day began at 8 o'clock in the morning with different courses and ended at 6 o'clock in the evening with a joint talk in the special series of lectures. The lecturers of the courses reported that the motivation and learning atmosphere in the classes were excellent and discussions were very productive. Many lecturers felt a higher pressure on the quality of their courses, caused by the more critical attitude of women (as they thought) and by the exposed position they got as role models.

The students mentioned that they have had the chance to concentrate only on the informatics contents for the first time. They were informatics students without the need to justify themselves permanently. They liked the open atmosphere in which they worked together and asked their questions. One student summerized her feeling: ,,I enjoy working together with my male collegueas, but I did not know before how wonderfull learning can be!„


4.4 Special Series of Lectures as Overview

At the end of each studying day we had organised a talk in the special series of lectures `Informatics in Detail Inspected'. The aim of these talks has been to discuss special questions from the different subjects and to illustrate the relations between the subjects. All participants of the summer courses, students and lecturerers, enjoyed these talks very much and some students meets afterwards and discussed the contents til late in the nights. Many students mentioned that they got an overview which helped them ranging their present knowledge and they wished a similar lectures in their own university.


4.5 Subjects: Holistic Picture of Informatics

The distribution of the participants to the three subjects was nearly the same. It was not evident that they prefer one of these actual subjects. But the subject oriented approach of the summer courses has been discussed in different ways. Younger students often did not understand the meanings of subjects. They have the traditional categorises of informatics in their minds and they did not find the relations between these different approaches. The subject oriented approach of describing the curriculum helps elder students to get a more holistic picture of informatics. The relations between theoretical, technical, practical and applied informatics and the importance of interdisciplinary aspects became more evident. Nevertheless subjects did not play any role in the choices of the students. Other aspects like time, title or special theme of a course built up the criteria.


4.6 Basic Courses: Lifting of Barriers

60% of all participants wanted to have basic courses especially a basic programming course in a modern programming language. While observing this aspect during the regristration process we have set up a focus in the first student inquiry on the question, how is imparting of basic skills integrated in the informatics study. It seems that the traditional informatics curricula do not support learning basic skills. Basic programming skills for example are required in the first classes, but often not systematically imparted to the students. It is leaved to themselves to organise it individually. and women often felt that they have many deficiencies and their male collegueas all know these basic skills. For the next summer courses we have increased the offers of basic courses. Similar to basic programming courses we also support learning basic skills in mathematics and theoretical informatics. It should be noticed that only one programming course was offered to us without specific call. The others had to be called in extra emails to mailing lists of female computer scientists.


4.7 Experiments with Forms and Contents

Where are the experiments with new forms and contents? What are the women specific aspects of informatics? Is there a female software engineering? These or similar questions have been often asked after the summer courses. It is not expected that there would be courses with revolutionary different forms and contents. Most of the lecturers are involved in academical structures. In such environmentsthey are not used to make experiments with different forms. If women wanted to be accepted in the informatics community they have to orient their research on these discussions and have to play the rules often defined by men.

But the protocols of the courses show that there were some slightly changes in the concepts of the courses. Some courses take up a project oriented learning environment. In such courses the students worked together on a small project task and the used contents have been introduced along this task. In another course lecturers from different disciplines worked together and they impart their different viewpoints on the contents. Some courses tried to integrate new contents in informatics courses like feminist questions e.g. the effect of information technology on women has been discussed. But in all courses the situation for lecturers and students has been quitely different to their usual experiences. Lecturers normally are not used to be in front of so many women and students have not pretty often female lecturers and only female collegueas.


4.8 Interdisciplinary and Feminist Aspects

Only few informatics departments in Germany, e.g. at the university of Bremen, integrate interdisciplinary aspects in their informatics curricula. Therefore many students and also lecturers are not used to have interdisciplinary discussions and for most of them interdisciplinary aspects of informatics was chosen as very important topic. They were delighted by the mixture of lecturers from different disciplines during the summer courses.

Feminist aspects were seen as new and interesting theme for some students especially in courses in which informatics themes were combined with feminist questions (e.g. Crutzen, Vosseberg 1999). But many especially young students did not see any relations between informatics and feminist aspects and they can not use this knowledge in their normal studies directly.


5 Conclusion

The first two years of the project have demonstrated the overwhelming interest on behalf of women inside and outside computing. The visibility of professional women seems to become influenced in a positive way, - not only as role models for young students. We also received great support from several men and women in other universities and companies. A formal cooperation could be signed with GMD - the national German research center for information technology. And last but not least the professional informatics society GI adopted a recommendation to all informatics departments in which they are asked to send their female students to the summer course, pay for their travel costs and accept the students' work as part of their regular studies. It can be assumed that the computer science community in education and research knows about the project. Nevertheless we are aware of many doubts about our work. Women‚s only activities are often commented very emotionally, one reason might be that there do not exist any women colleges or similar institutions in Germany.

We are interested in further, especially international contacts. Interested persons who would like to participate in future summer courses as lecturers or as students or who have further suggestions and ideas are requested to contact the authors of this paper.



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Vosseberg, Karin; Oechtering, Veronika (1999): Introducing Women's Interest into Higher Education of Informatics. In: P. Fogelberg et al.: Hard Work in the Academy. Research and interventions on gender inequalities in higher education. Proceedings of the European Conference on Gender Equality in Higher Education. University of Helsinki (Finland), 1.-3. Sept. 1998. Helsinki University Press, S. 232-241.



Veronika Oechtering and Karin Vosseberg
Project ,,Informatica Feminale„
University of Bremen
Department of Informatics
P.O. Box 330 440
D-28334 Bremen


[1] The project term is from May 1997 to May 2000. Funding is realized in a program called `Hochschulsonderprogramm (HSP) III' - a specific national program for universities and polytechnics in all Länder passed in 1996. The amount of money and specific area of use dedicated to women‚s promotion is partly fixed in HSP III.

[2] These backgrounds are described in more detail in (Oechtering,Vosseberg 1998).

[3] A summarize of the general curricula discussion in informatics is given in (Oechtering, Vosseberg 1998)


[5] The final programm is available in our web pages:

[6] The final programm is available in our web pages:

[7] number of registration from June, 10th 1999