Whether it’s programming, software development, web technologies, data protection, or the art of presentation: female students of all university types and subjects, as well as women interested in continuing education, take advantage of the diverse offerings of the international summer university Informatica Feminale at the University of Bremen year after year. For the anniversary, the summer university comes in a double pack: an intensive online program in July and August will be followed by face-to-face courses from September 1 to 14, 2022. Fifty university lecturers and 200 participants from all over the world are taking part. In addition, on September 8, 2022, a specialist conference entitled “25 Years of Informatica Feminale. Women’s Spaces in Computer Science – Experiences and Perspectives” will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Haus der Wissenschaft (house of research) in Bremen.
“We see Informatica Feminale as a place for experimentation, to bring new impulses to the study of computer science,” says its head, Veronika Oechtering, who helped establish the summer university from the beginning and has continued to develop it over the years with her staff. In addition to specialist topics, this also includes a critical perspective on technology, gender, and diversity aspects, and the reciprocal linking of various elements, such as continuing education and transfer labs.
“I am very pleased that Informatica Feminale has become so firmly established at the University of Bremen since its creation 25 years ago,” says the new President of the University of Bremen Professor Jutta Günther. “It is an important element of our university’s efforts to promote gender equality in computer science. I would like to thank Ms. Oechtering and her staff very much for their commitment.”
Senator for Science Dr. Claudia Schilling emphasizes: “Since its creation, Informatica Feminale has done much to attract and inspire more women to pursue computer science. The continuing importance of such offerings is demonstrated by the fact that women continue to be significantly underrepresented despite initial progress in this area. In addition to events such as Informatica Feminale, it is not least the diverse mentoring programs at our universities that make a valuable contribution to gender equality. These offerings need to be further supported and dovetailed.”
How did Informatica Feminale come into being?
Veronika Oechtering remembers: “The first idea was in 1992,” she says. “Summer universities were a tradition of the women’s movement in the 1970s and 1980s.” Women computer scientists at the University of Bremen wanted to establish this format in order to change gender relations at university and in this subject. It was supported by the nationwide network of female computer scientists, in particular the specialist group “Women and Computer Science” of the Gesellschaft für Informatik (computer science society). On May 1, 1997, the first summer university took place. Since the year 2000, it has been a permanent teaching offer of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Bremen and is financed by the women professors program of the federal and state governments and the University of Bremen.
“Still a long way from gender justice”
“In 25 years, an extensive network and an intergenerational community have developed,” says Veronika Oechtering. “The response remains high due to the strong orientation towards professionalism.” For Veronika Oechtering in particular, gender policy measures in computer science have lost none of their topicality and relevance. “With regard to computer science, we are still a long way from achieving gender justice in all fields and all areas,” she says. The professional culture in Germany is still strongly biased toward men. “This is problematic in many ways.” Offers such as a summer university for women are a building block for bringing about gender equality in computer science.
Head of the Center of Excellence Women in Science and Technology
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-64463
Mobile: +49 176 112-18807
© Birgit Wingrat Fotografie
The Informatica Feminale team of the University of Bremen (from left): Isabel Matthias, Veronika Oechtering and Henrike Illig.