Gender-sensitive language

The University of Vienna is committed to the use of gender-sensitive language.

"All bodies and administrative institutions at the University of Vienna are to use gender-sensitive language in send-outs, forms, protocols, talks, and other announcements directed at the public or at University affiliates. The female and male forms or gender-neutral terms are to be used."
(Source: Affirmative Action Plan (for the advancement of women)(in German), section 11 )

Common practice

The University of Vienna has no guidelines defining what form of gender-sensitive language should be used. It is the basic principle of gender-sensitive language to mention the gender/genders that is/are meant. In some cases, it may also be appropriate to use gender-neutral terms (e.g. in German: Studierende or Lehrende) for reasons of simplicity. 

It is not sufficient to merely point out at the beginning or at the end of a text that the masculine form is used but that the female form is also always intended.


For further information, the Gender Equality and Diversity unit recommends the following guidelines:

Academic Degrees

According to section 88 of the 2002 Universities Act (in German), academic degree certificates use the respective masculine or feminine written form of the academic degree. This does, however, not apply to the abbreviated forms of academic degrees: the degrees may be used with a gender-specific addition, but may not be stated on the degree certificate in this form.

Examples: Award of academic degrees in their feminine form

  • Magistra der Philosophie, (usage: Mag.a phil.)
  • Doktorin der Rechtswissenschaften (usage: iur.)
  • Bakkalaurea, Bakk. (usage: Bakk.a)

For academic degrees in English language there are no gender-specific forms: 

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Pupils for gender-sensitive language

Gender-sensitive language doesn't start at university: A study at the Freie Universität Berlin shows that gender-sensitive language influences employment goals of children. In that spirit, pupils from Hamburg made a music video on the topic of gender-sensitive language. You can read more about it here (German).