Gender Studies

Gender studies developed from the feminist movements and critical theorising of the 20th century. Gender studies have since become established as a distinct field of teaching and research, and is grounded in a wide variety of disciplines such as (gender) history, legal (gender) studies and (gender) sociology. Gender studies examine how past and present social order and power relations were and are created through gender. In this context, gender is viewed not as a biologically or naturally determined constant, but rather as a lifelong, historically and culturally conditioned process of constitution, a form of existence, and thus the result of social and individual processes. 

Gender studies address the importance of gender in science and society, and examine the genders and their relationship with one other. They are interested in how gender is created, reproduced and transformed via the heteronormative matrix of a bi-gender system – whether that is in specifically gendered dominance relationships, institutions, the division of labour, in sexuality and through bodies, in everyday practices, in families, friendships and love relationships, or through the state, education, culture, economy and politics. This prompts a closely related examination of the various dimensions of social, ethnic, cultural and sexual differentiation processes from an intersectional perspective. In this light, a key task for gender studies is highlighting different forms of inequality creation. 

Gender studies are extremely reflective and have high critical standards: they invite examination of the social dynamics and power relations that spawn and shape society and the production of knowledge (in universities). A key characteristic of gender research is therefore its interdisciplinarity, as well as its wide range of methodological and theoretical approaches.

Studying Gender Studies

Have you ever wondered what ‘gender’ actually means?

Would you like to know more about why women’s suffrage was only introduced in Switzerland in 1971, and why there have been two nationwide women’s strikes since then?

Have you ever wondered why socialisation is different for girls and boys?

Are you interested in understanding why the headscarf triggers such emotional debate, and why same-sex couples in Switzerland cannot adopt children?

Have you ever wondered why certain groups – women or people of colour – come up against a ‘glass ceiling’, and what that has to do with white or male privilege?

Have you heard the term ‘intersectionality’, but do not really understand what it is and would like to find out more?

Were you also astonished that women earn less for equal work, or that women in Switzerland predominantly work part time?

Then gender studies is the right place for you.

There are a wide range of options for studying gender studies in Switzerland. Switzerland does not have a standardised gender studies curriculum – instead, content and specialisms vary by university and according to the research focuses of individual institutes and professorships. 

All gender studies institutes/centres in Switzerland

These universities have established specialist centres for gender studies or have embedded gender studies within specific departments and institutions. Visit the websites of each professorship, institute and institution to find out about the specific gender studies programmes available!

Gender studies at Swiss universities, technical colleges and colleges of education

The following universities offer a wide range of study and further training programmes in gender studies. More information is available on the Gender Campus website.  

University of Basel, Center of Gender Studies:

  • Bachelor’s and master’s programmes

FHNW

  • CAS Diversity and Equality Competence

University of Zurich, Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

  • Master’s program in Gender Studies

University of Bern, Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies

  • Master in Gender Studies (minor only)
  • Master of Gender and Religion (minor only)
  • CAS Gender Competence in Migration and Globalisation

University of St. Gallen, Department of Gender and Diversity

  • Bachelor’s and master’s study programmes

University of Fribourg, Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work study programme

  • ‘Gender, Society, Social Policy’ MA minor study programmes and specialisation programmes under the ‘Sociology, Social Policy, Social Work’ programme

University of Neuchâtel, Center for the Understanding of Social Processes (MAPS)

  • Bachelor's and master’s study programmes

University of Lausanne, Centre for Gender Studies

  • Bachelor’s and master’s study programmes
  • EGALES European master’s course

The Graduate Institute Geneva, Gender Centre

  • Bachelor’s and master’s study programmes
  • E-learning programmes

University of Geneva, Institute of Gender Studies

  • Bachelor’s and master’s study programmes in Gender Studies
  • Continuing education
  • MOOC ‘Genre: quels enjeux? Violences, globalisation, biomédecine, sexualités’

Gender studies at summer and winter schools in Switzerland

Various departments, institutes and institutions also offer summer/winter schools and workshops on gender studies

PhDs in gender studies

Switzerland has four PhD programmes in gender studies, which are connected via the Gender Studies Switzerland Network (Basel, Bern, CUSO, Zurich) and the Swissuniversities inter-university doctoral programme for gender studies (Basel, Bern, Zurich).