,,The two weeks informatics summer courses for women have been more important for me than most of the terms in my normal informatics study„ summerized a young student her experiences in the last year. What does she means with this suggestion and what do she and other female students miss in their informatics study? Which reforms of university education in informatics are necessary from women’s viewpoint and which reforms are suitable in the different departments of informatics? These are the focal questions in our project ,Informatica Feminale &endash; Summer University of Women in Informatics` .
The aim of the project is to bring together female students and female professors or lecturers from all German departments of informatics, women from practice and women from other disciplines to work on new educational concepts in informatics and to give them the opportunity to try new forms of teaching and learning in an examplary manner. In this time of ’post-feminism’ such women projects in technical disciplines are sometimes seen as relicts of the women‚s movement in the seventies which have lost their base among the new generation of students. Obviously women gained great influence on several important areas during this century, and nowadays young women can start with a high self-confidence in many areas of life. Nevertheless the gendered structures are still visible in other societal fields and institutions. Technological and academic fields can both be analyzed as excellent examples for the latter perspective (Grundy 1996).
The project Informatica Feminale should not be a repetition of the single-sex courses for women at the end of th 80th, with the aim to overcome the deficiencies faced by women and to remove their assumed fear of technology. Today young women have a high self-confidence in using technology and experiences in different projects show that they are not interested in such special treatments (?). On the contrary women are interested in changing the studying culture in the sense of a changed atmosphere and changed priorities in organisation of research (Metz-Göckel, Steck 1997). We want to open a new place to come together and create new perspectives and strategies in that field, which take the manifold interests of women in informatics in consideration.
The project can be seen in the context of the existing women network in Germany. Inside and connected to the Department of Informatics at the University of Bremen we are supported by some engaged women who have deeply been involved in discussions and projects on women in computing. This local network and several broader connections of women in computing like the Special Interest Group ’Women‚s Work and Informatics’ in the German Professional Society of Informatics (GI) build another base (Oechtering/Behnke 1995, Schelhowe, Vosseberg 1991). The interest and support by these communities are essential for the project . But at this time the analysis of gender-based constructions inside informatics has only started with some first steps. Too often the theme is discussed in a very general and common way. Women who are engaged in the effects of gender in information technology have to work in that field in addition to another informatics theme. Even if the importance of women‚s views on information technology is recognized the need for women‚s own test-fields in constructing new curricula contents and methods of reflection are not yet well accepted. Therefore an aim of our project is to open ways for better understanding and support for gender-based research and actions in informatics. We address all project activities to interested women all over Germany; women from other countries are welcome and already participating.