Equality and diversity at the University of Vienna

Equality and diversity are among the central socio-political challenges of a university. It is the goal of the University of Vienna to be as free of discrimination as possible for all of its affiliates – students and employees. At the same time, gender, equality and diversity are subjects of research and therefore in teaching.

These two layers are also reflected in the various institutions and initiatives at the University of Vienna as can be seen in the following image.

Focus on: the Gender Equality and Diversity unit

The Gender Equality and Diversity unit is part of the Human Resources and Gender Equality service unit. It enables and strengthens equality and diversity for everybody affiliated with the university. Since the creation of the unit, there have been three focal points:

  1. Regarding equality, the focus lies with gender equality. Gender is still one of the most important categories of social differentiation in our society, including in science.
  2. Diversity is understood as a fundamental factor in human relationships that affects all the people at university. Diversity cannot be reduced to single dimensions (like ethnicity, social origin, disability, gender …). Instead, it needs to be understood as multi-dimensional. This approach is called anti-categorial. Its goal is to better comprehend the intersections and interactions of the various dimensions in their complexity.
  3. As part of the Human Resources and Gender Equality service unit, the Gender Equality and Diversity unit mostly concerns itself with the university employees.

The experts working in the Gender Equality and Diversity unit develop and implement strategies for the University of Vienna based on their knowledge. With practical experiences, existing strategies are constantly (re-)evaluated and adapted. The strategies deal with three big issues that are part of the unit’s assignment. Those issues are gender equality, diversity and the reconcilability of various domains of life with gainful employment. 

To implement the developed strategies, the unit, on the one hand, transfers expert knowledge into the organisation, and on the other hand, it designs and manages programmes. Both the knowledge transfers and the programmes can be divided into three areas:

  1. In the area of sensitisation and raising awareness, university cultures and structures are reflected to make visible the fields of the university where equality and diversity can be improved; to sharpen the awareness of structural barriers; and to trigger the necessary processes for change.
  2. In the area of career measures and counselling, the unit offers individual assistance. People can participate in programmes that are supposed to make structural barriers easier to overcome.
  3. In the area of monitoring, data are collected and analyse to capture the current state, as well as following and controlling long-term developments.

The unit uses various instruments to realize the topics of the areas sensitisation and raising awareness, career measures and counselling and monitoring. Those instruments can be clustered as follows: