Our resources page provides information on what we are keeping up with. Take a look through our dropdown menus to learn more about gender related issues both at ETH and beyond. We also provide links to external groups, websites, or partners that SWiSH collaborates with.

Gender at ETH

If you encounter gender-related or other personal or professional problems at D-GESS, consider contacting the GESS Help!Point.

Members of D-GESS recently founded the WIDE group, focusing on Well-being, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity. Their website also provides a useful collection of resources on related topics at D-GESS or ETH more general.

EQUAL! is the equal opportunities office at ETH. Its goal is to offer women and men equal opportunities to successfully study, do research and work at ETH Zurich. Consider joining their mailing list.

Find everything on the Gender Action Plan (GAP) at ETH here and read the department-specific GAP of D-GESS here.

The ETH Code of Conduct acts as a guideline for how members of the ETH community should treat each other and can serve as a resource for you to understand when staff or students are behaving inappropriately. The ETH Respect page provides more information on what to do in the case of misconduct.

ETH offers gender-neutral toilets in some of its buildings. You can find a list here.

A short history of women at ETH Zurich created by the ETH Library about the institution's female trailblazers of the past and the present.

 

Allies to Equality

At ETH, and generally at any level of academia, gender equality is still a highly discussed topic. The higher up you go on the academic ladder, the fewer wom*n you will encounter. Until today, it is more common for men to hold leading positions in academia than for wom*n.

We think that achieving gender equality is not a task wom*n have to accomplish by themselves - it requires joint effort of all genders. Even small changes in behavior can help to promote and subsequently achieve gender equality for everyone. Men standing up for equal rights is a phenomenon that is becoming more and more common with movements such as ‘He for She’ (UN) or in Switzerland ‘WE/MEN’ and ‘Feministen’.

That is why we have put together some suggestions for small changes that can be integrated into daily life. These are for anyone who wants to promote more sensitivity to, and show solidarity with, the struggle for gender equality:

  1. Acknowledge male privilege
    People are used to the system they are born into. If you are in a privileged position, the privilege often goes unnoticed and is taken for granted. For example, our social norms today often allow men to take up more physical space and dominate conversations while not being expected to continually smile or apologize. Further, representation in media and data is still male-dominated. Rethinking your own position in a given system and critically reflecting on how it differs from others is the first step to a more equal future. We invite cis men[1] to actively try to identify situations in which you had fewer disadvantages in contrast to colleagues with other genders. By acknowledging male privilege in our own society, whether in politics, economy or education, we become more aware of and challenge the patriarchal system we were born into.
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  2. Show Solidarity and Speak up
    To achieve a better and more equal future, it is not only necessary to acknowledge the problem, but to also stand with wom*n in everyday life. If you observe that a female colleague is not taken seriously in a meeting or does not have a chance to share her perspective in the same way your male colleagues do, you should consider talking to her about the unequal treatment you have observed. In any case, ask her whether she would appreciate it if you point out these unconscious gender biases publicly whenever they happen, or if she prefers you speak with your colleagues in private about it. Offer to talk to your male colleagues about their behavior to prevent similar situations in the future in order to make her more comfortable.
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  3. Encourage and support wom*n to take the lead in a project
    Give wom*n the room to volunteer for the most prestigious positions and/or actively encourage them to take on such a role when tasks are distributed in your team.
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  4. Talk about gender equality with others
    It is important to encourage dialogue about gender equality, in particular among those who hold privileges. If you consider yourself privileged (which you probably are due to your gender, background, family, etc.), you are in a unique position to start such a conversation. For wom*n it can be difficult to bring up this topic, partly because they can be stigmatized as too aggressive or annoying. It is also tiring for wom*n to always advocate for this topic when they are constantly met with negative reactions. We encourage you to actively start this conversation, and to critically reflect on your own defensive reactions if a wom*n raises the topic.
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  5. Look for fair treatment
    As early as primary school, girls are more often interrupted and less likely to be given credit for their ideas. Further, the work of wom*n and men are often unconsciously evaluated differently (e.g. given less credit for a good idea, being called/perceived as annoying when disagreeing with a male colleague, etc.). With this awareness, you can actively analyze your behavior and the behavior of your colleagues during your next team meeting or evaluation. Can you see the – often unconscious – biases in your own or others’ behavior? Ask yourself how you would react in the same situation if the colleague had been male. For instance, do you react differently depending on whether a man or a wom*n questions your point of view? Subsequently, try to change your behavior to ensure an equal treatment of wom*n and men.
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  6. Educate yourself
    Gender discrimination is complex, intersectional, often structural rather than direct, and shows huge variation across settings. Likewise, achieving gender equality is also not straightforward. Therefore, it is important to educate yourself about this topic: read a book, listen to a podcast, attend panel discussions, or join other activities. Below, we have included some resources which can help.

 

It is important for us to reiterate that these tips are not only for cis men, but for everyone who wants to speak up and fight against gender as well as other forms of inequality.

 

Sources and Information on the Topic

Websites :

 

Books and Articles :

  • The ‘She Figures’ publication provides a range of indicators on gender equality in research and innovation at a pan-European level. It aims to give an overview of the gender equality situation, using a wide range of indicators to examine the impact and effectiveness of policies implemented in this area
  • 2019/2020 Equality Monitoring report of ETH in which  they present the current data pertaining to the situation of gender equality at ETH in general and in the different departments.
  • Wom*n and Men at Swiss Universities: Indicator Report on Equal Opportunities in Study Programs and Academic Careers (German)
  • 11 children’s books to teach kids about gender equality.
  • How to empower yourself as a wom*n
    This article presents seven useful tips on how wom*n can empower themselves.
  • Invisible Women. Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. By Caroline Criado Perez.
    This Sunday Times Bestseller reveals our world largely built by men for men, half of the population is systematically ignored. In the book different case studies are brought together which show different ways in which women are forgotten and the impact it has on all of us.

 

Podcasts :

These podcasts offer insights for men who want to be gender equity allies and champions. From lively discussions about evolving ideas of masculinity to nitty-gritty advice for navigating office situations, these podcast episodes offer thoughtful takeaways for men.

(Disclaimer: Not all recommendations on these lists were checked by us)

 

Some more options in German :

 

[1] More information under: https://www.nyu.edu/life/global-inclusion-and-diversity/learning-and-development/toolkits/glossary.html or https://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender

Links

What do others do and think about?

entropie
a blog by ETH students on how knowledge changes our society and the other way around

Gender campus
a platform for gender studies, equality, and diversity at Swiss institutions for higher education ; if you're a student, check out in particular their national course directory that lists gender-related courses across Swiss universities for each semester

Histnoire
a project documenting black wom*n's presence in the Swiss public sphere in the past and in the present

Society for Women in Philosophy in Switzerland
a supportive network of wom*n philosophers working in the scientific field

The Lily
The first US newspaper by and for wom*n

Wom*n's Strike

On June 6, 2019, wom*n across Switzerland went on strike to demand gender equality and justice. The wom*n's strike collective of ETH Zurich issued an open manifesto, which formulates a list of demands to the institution. SWiSH fully supports the contents of this manifesto:

Open letter: demands on the ETH

In international university rankings, ETH Zurich is among the top ranks and is proud to assume a leading role in terms of research and teaching. However, the view of the federal model institution becomes clouded as soon as one devotes oneself to social issues and in particular to the question of gender equality. In contrast to other leading universities in the world, the ETH has neither an effective cross-departmental plan to implement equality with concrete measures, nor a guideline for dealing with cases of discrimination or sexual harassment and violence. In international comparison, the resources that ETH invests in combating gender inequality are negligible.

We demand that ETH Zurich be aware of its responsibility as a leading teaching and research institution in social matters. It should take gender equality issues seriously and commit itself to effectively addressing the challenges ahead.

 

Gender mainstreaming at all levels instead of ineffective projects and workshops

With the Gender Action Plan adopted in February 2014, ETH Zurich has set itself ambitious goals. Among other things, a balanced gender balance should be achieved at all academic career levels at ETH. Specifically, little has changed since then. This is shown by the internal ETH statistics of the gender monitoring published annually. If, for example, the occupations of full and associate professorships are considered, the proportion of wom*n rose from 10.2% to 12.1% between 2014 and 2017 (ETH Gender Monitoring, 2017).

This shows that the current equality strategy at ETH is not effective. If ETH actually wants to achieve the goals it has set itself, these must urgently be reconsidered. We therefore call for a paradigm shift in the equality strategy of the ETH in terms of gender mainstreaming: away from the current equality work geared to targeted projects towards a holistic strategy that understands gender as a cross-cutting issue. This includes taking into account the different life situations, requirements and interests of all genders when making decisions at all levels.

We demand:

  • Elimination of the structural gender bias at the highest level, for example by introducing a quota for shortlists and appointment commissions
  • Obligatorische Leadership-Trainings für Führungskräfte und Professor*innen der ETH Zürich, in denen Gender-Trainings (Sensibilisierung und Fortbildung in Bezug auf Geschlechterdiskriminierung und -förderung) einen wichtigen Teil ausmachen
  • “Gender-mainstreamed” Unterricht:
    • (1) Geschlechtersensible Unterrichtsformen als pädagogische Praxis einführen: Verbesserung der Gestaltung und Durchführung von Lehrtätigkeiten, z.B. wenn es um die Verteilung der Redezeit geht, sowie die Einführung von anonymen Prüfungen
    • (2) Geschlechtergerechtigkeit in die Wahl der Fachinhalte einfliessen lassen: Gleichstellung von Frauen* und Männern* in Bezug auf das Fach, die Kursliteratur und anderer Lehrmaterialien
  • Thematisierung und Anerkennung der Existenz von mehreren Geschlechtsidentitäten anstelle der strengen Zweiteilung von Geschlechtern (binäres Denken)
  • Eine unabhängige Kommission/Stelle, die sämtliche massgebenden, bestehenden sowie zukünftigen Dokumente, Denk- und Handlungsgrundlagen der ETH (Strategie, Leitbild, etc.) auf diskriminierende Formulierungen und Darstellungen überprüft und, wenn nötig, anpasst
  • Konsequente Verwendung von geschlechtergerechter Sprache in sämtlichen ETH-Dokumenten, sowie auf der Website
  • Erhöhung der finanziellen und personellen Ressourcen im Bereich Gleichstellungsförderung und den Ausbau der Stelle für Chancengleichheit auf mindestens 200 Stellenprozent

 

Effektive Vermeidung und Bekämpfung von sexualisierter Belästigung statt leerer Worte.

«Die ETH Zürich toleriert strikt keine Formen von sexueller Belästigung oder Diskriminierung wegen des Geschlechts» (Gender Action Plan ETH Zürich, 2014). Dass dieses Versprechen nicht sehr viel mit der ETH-Realität zu tun hat, zeigten medienwirksame Vorfälle der letzten Monate. Die ETH muss sich nicht nur gegen sexualisierte Gewalt und Belästigung aussprechen, sondern auch eine adäquate Infrastruktur bereitstellen und sich auf eine klare Vorgehensweise bei Fällen von Belästigung, Gewalt und Diskriminierung einigen.

Wir fordern:

  • Die Einführung von Anlaufstellen mit qualifizierten und von der ETH unabhängigen Berater*innen
  • Die Möglichkeit zur persönlichen sowie anonymen Berichterstattung
  • Eine respektvolle und ernsthafte Handhabung eingereichter Meldungen
  • Einen verbindlichen und öffentlich zugänglichen Leitfaden im Umgang mit sexualisierter Belästigung und Gewalt
  • Massnahmen zur Sensibilisierung für ETH-Angestellte, insbesondere für Manager*innen und Professor*innen (Trainings, Leitfäden, Workshops etc.)

Sämtliche Hochschulen, mit denen sich die ETH international gerne misst – von Harvard, Cambridge, Stanford, Oxford über MIT, Caltech bis zum Imperial College London – verfügen bereits über die genannten institutionellen Einrichtungen und Leitfäden. Die meisten dieser Top-Universitäten verfügen zudem über einen 24/7 Meldedienst für Fälle von sexualisierter Belästigung und hauseigene sowie externe Anwält*innen für Betroffene. Cambridge hat zusätzlich im Oktober 2017 unter dem Namen “Breaking the silence” eine breit angelegte Kampagne zur Bekämpfung von sexualisierter Belästigung lanciert, die zusehends Wirkung zeigt. Die ETH läuft Gefahr weibliche Spitzenkandidatinnen zu verlieren, da sie sich an einer anderen Universität willkommener fühlen. Es ist an der Zeit, dass die ETH auch in Gleichstellungsfragen eine Führungsposition einnimmt.

 

Erziehungs- und Pflegearbeit als gesamtgesellschaftliche Verantwortung statt Fokus auf Frauen* und Mütter

Die ETH Zürich verfügt bereits über ein sehr breit angelegtes Angebot zur Förderung der Vereinbarkeit von Familie und Beruf. Dieses reicht von bereitgestellten Krippenplätzen über Veranstaltungen für Eltern, Familienräume, Beratungen bis zu finanzieller Unterstützung. Die ETH-Strategie im Bereich Vereinbarkeit ist jedoch zu sehr auf Frauen* und Mütter ausgerichtet. Damit unterstützt die ETH implizit die Annahme, dass Erziehungs- und Pflegearbeit noch immer grösstenteils von Frauen* getragen werden soll, ohne diese Haltung kritisch zu reflektieren.

Wir fordern, dass sich die ETH explizit dafür ausspricht, dass Erziehungs- und Pflegearbeit eine gesamtgesellschaftliche Verantwortung sein muss. Dies beinhaltet unter anderem, Männer* in ihrer Vaterrolle zu bekräftigen. Dass die Schweiz in Bezug auf bezahlten Elternurlaub im internationalen Vergleich das Schlusslicht darstellt, sollte die ETH nicht davon abhalten, fortschrittliche Regelungen einzuführen. Im Gegenteil könnte die ETH in diesem Bereich eine «Vorreiterinnenrolle» übernehmen.

Wir fordern:

  • Bezahlte Elternzeit von 38 Wochen, mit einem Vaterschaftsurlaub von mind. 8 Wochen. Dieser Vorschlag entspricht den auf wissenschaftlich fundierten Argumenten basierenden Empfehlungen der Eidgenössische Koordinationskommission für Familienfragen EKFF (2018) und liegt weit unter dem OECD-Durchschnitt von 54 Wochen Elternurlaub
  • Adjusted maximum assistance time in which the time for care work is deducted from the assistance time performed

 

We demand that ETH put our demands into practice. We therefore expect a specific proposal by 2020 as to the measures ETH will take to address the upcoming challenges with regard to gender equality.​​

 

Wom*n's Strike Collective of the Zurich Universities, AG ETH