Gender-inclusive language

 

The Affirmative Action Plan for the Advancement of Women and Equal Opportunities of the University of Vienna states (§ 2) that

  1. all institutions and members of staff (academic and non-academic) are to use discrimination-free and gender-inclusive language in all communications directed at members of the University or at the public.
  2. general statements like "women are included in masculine forms" are not acceptable.
  3. neither the University nor third parties are allowed to distribute materials on university grounds that don't comply with the principles of anti-discrimination and equality or that use discriminating stereotypes.

Common practice

The University of Vienna is committed to the use of gender-inclusive language. What form of gender-inclusive language should be used is open at the University of Vienna, though the use of the asterisk in German is recommended. It is the basic principle of gender-inclusive 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.

Guidelines

The University of Vienna has a guideline and recommendation for the use of gender-inclusive language in the administration of the University of Vienna (2019).

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 may be used with a gender-specific suffix ("a", "in" or "x"). The suffix "a" resp. "in" is reserved for people whose gender is officially female. The suffix "x" is reserved for people whose official gender is neither male nor female.  According to section 87 of the 2002 Universities Act (in German), degrees are still awarded in the binary form.

Examples:

  • After the title Magister or Magistra has been awarded, people who are officially female can choose whether they want to use Mag. or Mag.a in official documents. People whose official gender is neither male nor female can choose whether they want to use Mag. or Mag.x.
  • After the title Doktor or Doktorin has been awarded, people who are officially female can choose whether they want to use Dr. or Dr.in in official documents. People whose official gender is neither male nor female can choose whether they want to use Dr. or Dr.x.
  • After the title Bakkalaur or Bakkalaurea has been awarded, people who are officially female can choose whether they want to use Bakk. or Bakk.a in official documents. People whose official gender is neither male nor female can choose whether they want to use Bakk. or Bakk.x.

A non-abbreviated form of the title with the suffix "x" is not officially considered.

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-inclusive language

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