In 2005 the University of Bremen started the first national summer university for women in engineering. Ingenieurinnen-Sommeruni is a place for experimentation and professional exchange, with the intention to develop and imply new impulses in Engineering.
Three conceptual aspects of academic education – defining curricular fundamentals, training of students and encouraging lecturers – are closely connected in this approach. They connect studying, institutional structures and practices at a university. Particularly technical subjects are strongly influenced by male interests. With the concept of the single-sex Summer University we want to support women at different academic and scientific levels to exert influence increasingly.
We have created a room for developing and exploring new methods for gender equality in the scientific sector. The nature of our conceptual starting point is clearly professional, but also includes a personal level by means of intensive communication offerings. We regard academic and research content in Engineering as well as structures and practices at institutions of higher education as key factors in exclusion for women in Engineering. Therefore gender equality policies should not stop at questions on teaching professional content, but must also regard changes of academic culture in terms of changing the ambience and the organizational focus in everyday education and research at universities.
This will be a long road, but professional networking is indispensable. Summer Universities should create opportunities for women to strengthen their influence on different academic and scientific operating levels.
The concept of Ingenieurinnen-Sommeruni has been transfered from Informatica Feminale, the summer university for women in Informatics (Computer Science). Informatica Feminale was developed at Bremen University and is organized at Bremen on a yearly basis since 1998. More detailed information about the concept and history of Informatica Feminale can be found at: www.informatica-feminale.de.