Work–Gender–Technology: About us
The research group Work–Gender–Technology has been a part of Hamburg’s University of Technology since 2003. We’re a team of social scientists with an interdisciplinary interest in the following fields of research and teaching:
- sociology of work
- technology and internet research
- learning and higher education
Work–Gender–Technology addresses the research areas of work, technology and the internet as well as learning and higher education with a special focus on gender. We understand gender as an expression of a normative and hierarchical differentiation between men and women. Gender is the result of performative social practices and manifested in identity, social structure and representations. We view gender as a bi-gendered, heteronormative social construct, which gains its efficacy through the naturalization of this normative differentiation.
In all our areas of research, we are concerned with the agency and resistance of individuals, organizations, institutions, political actors and networks. We look for possibilities of agency at work, online, in academia and every day life. Technology is of special interest for many of our projects: as a research field, where we're interested in agency, as well as media affecting agency.
Our understanding of work includes paid labor as well as reproductive work, including care-work in private households as well as volunteer work. We look at the intersections of work and gender, race, class and body-relations and how work is distributed along those lines. Regarding intersectional mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion, we’re concerned with what empowers people to challenge restrictive work conditions through collective action.
Research and Teaching Objectives
We aim at doing research that is not only relevant to the scientific community, but that is relevant, comprehensible and applicable to social change.
This aspiration also applies to our teaching. Primarily, we teach courses for students of engineering. To those students, we want to make available tools of analysis that are useful for understanding and shaping society. Learning about society and gender is not an end in itself. We want students to be able to analyze and reflect upon the relevance of gender, the societal dimension of technology and work relations today.
As a basic principle, or research is empirically oriented. We work closely to the material, apply theoretical concepts and take account of other categories of social inequality besides gender. We pursue an intersectional analysis to social inequality, where we understand social categories of inequality (i.e., gender, age, class) to be effective on three levels: social structures, representations and identities.
To counteract gender stereotying through research, our methodology is based on a relational concept of gender. Instead of starting the interpretation of data beginning with a separation of men and women, we look for a typology that takes into account specific forms of inequality in the field. It is only after that step that we look for gender distribution.
The members of our working group represent different theoretical approaches. We do not aim at a single theoretical perspective, but at using and developing further a multiplicity of epistemologies for joint research interests, methodologies and concepts. Hereby, we were able to develop concepts like „co-materialisation of technology and gender“ (Winker 2005) and the „Arbeitskraftmanagerin“ (Winker/Carstensen 2004, 2007). Furthermore, the intersectional multi level analysis (Winker/Degele 2009, 2011) is in part resulting from our discussions.
Completed and current research projects
Work research and gender:
- Agency in Unbound Labour Relations
- Gender Regimes and Work-Life-Balance Programs
- The Agency of Drug-Using Sex-Workers
- The Integration of Highly Qualified Migrant Women into the German Labor Market
Technology, internet and gender:
- E-Empowerment – The Utilization of the Internet in Woman-Political Networks
- Participation of Unemployed Persons through the Internet
Higher Education research and gender:
- Technical Attitudes of Students in Engineering and Computer Studies
- Drop Out in Engineering Studies