FAQ & Glossary on Gender


Frequently asked questions on Gender

What does 'gender' mean?

The term ‘gender’ refers to social sex. In contrast to biological sex, the social category of gender does not refer to biological characteristics but to certain social behaviors that are attributed to a gender. In German there is only the term ‘Geschlecht’ for both categories, so the term ‘gender’ is also used to distinguish the two dimensions.

What is the difference between 'equality' and 'equal oportunities'?

In Germany, we understand 'equality' to mean primarily gender equality (of men and women) and the advancement of women. In North Rhine-Westphalia, equality is regulated by the State Equal Opportunity Act, in the spirit of which the equal opportunity officers at universities act. In particular, the equal opportunity officers are involved in the development planning of the university, in structural and personnel decisions, in the enforcement and further development of funding guidelines, and in the improvement of working and study conditions with regard to issues of equality, equal treatment and improved compatibility.

The term 'equal opportunities' encompasses other discrimination categories beyond the dimension of gender, such as age, religion, ethnic origin, and disability. These categories are based on the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG).
Accordingly, at RWTH, the principle of gender equality applies just as much as the achievement of equal opportunities for all people, regardless of personal characteristics or life circumstances.

What is the difference between 'gender research' and 'gender-sensitive research'?

Gender research can be assigned to the fields of medicine, biology or the humanities and social sciences. It is defined as research that has gender, as sex or gender, and its framework conditions, and how we deal with it in our society and culture as its research focus.

Gender-sensitive research includes research on a wide variety of topics - this can also include the development of technical products, the processes of AIs, or medical technology innovations - that appropriately takes into account that these products are socially useful and function equally for all people, regardless of gender, or whether gender differences may occur in the process.

What is gender-appropriate language and how should it be used at RWTH?

Gender-appropriate or gender-sensitive language serves to take gender equality into account in language as well because language has been proven to influence our consciousness and imagination. Since RWTH Aachen University is committed to the principle of equality of all genders and equal opportunities for all its members, the university gives great importance to gender-neutral language in the official context. In order to ensure this, gender-neutral formulations or dual nouns (feminine and masculine) should be chosen as a matter of priority. In addition, the gender star can also be used. 

More tips on gender-sensitive language (in German) can be found in the Equal Opportunity Office brochure and in the short video "Gender-sensitive language".