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Welcome to the Research Group “Gender and Diversity in Engineering” (GDI)


With our online presence we are offering an overview of our tasks and aims in research and teachings to students, other members of RWTH Aachen and external researchers who are interested in the integration of perspectives of heterogeneity and diversity on different levels of organisations as well as research and development.

The gender and diversity chair investigates, places and publishes new themes in gender and diversity research. As “bridging professorship“, the chair is designed to strengthen the interdisciplinary communication between technological, engineering, natural, human, social and economical sciences. The aim of the chair is to integrate gender and diversity perspectives into the wide range of subjects within engineering science. Via the means of teachings alumni of technical and natural scientific courses will receive gender and diversity competencies.

The location of the chair “Gender and Diversity in Engineering” at the faculty of civil engineering secures a pioneering position of RWTH Aachen University among the German technical universities which we are intending to use in an effective and cooperative way.

Mission Statement: Social Responsible Science


Social responsible (engineering) science is a value, which is expressed by establishing the department of rector’s delegates for Social Responsible Education at the RWTH Aachen University. Prof. Dr. phil. Carmen Leicht-Scholten was appointed as rector’s delegate for Social Responsible Education by the rectorate in November 2016. The mediation of social responsible teaching content as well as respectful interactions with each other, especially in teaching situations, are some of the key objectives at the RWTH Aachen University followed by the rector’s delegate’s duty. In this context it has to be emphasized, that social responsible teaching contents have to convey Gender and Diversity competencies to face upcoming social challenges. Besides content related aspects, cultural aspects and the mediation of knowledge have to be included and critically reflected. In the framework of the bridging professorship that Prof. Carmen Leicht-Scholten leads at the GDI, several seminars, which deal with the mediation of Gender and Diversity competencies for future engineers are offered. Additionally, the team of the GDI is doing research in this field.

Social responsible science has to be sustainable and inclusive in a globalized world, where imbalance and structures in power as well as the finiteness of resources form central challenges for future generations. Thereby scientists carry a special responsibility. In this context but also related to the current political incidents regarding the US-American closing of the border for designated people, Robert K. Merton describes the “norms of science” with the term of universalism. His concept implies, that valuation of scientific research must happen independently from the person or his/her social attitudes. That means diversity categories like ethnics, nationality, religion, social status and personal attributes of the scientist are not allowed to be used to discredit his/her research work or to emphasize his/her credibility. The GDI associates itself with this “norm of science” without seeing it as a contradiction to the concept of intersectionality.

Februar 3rd, 2017 - Science is international

The GDI supports the common statement by German Rectors´ Conference (HRK), Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Deutscher Forschungsgemeinschaft, German Academic Exchange Service, German Council of Science and Humanities, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, Leibniz Association, Max Planck Society.

You can find more information on the websites of the German Rector's Conference, the European University Association and the site for Academics Against Immigration Executive Order.

PhD projects at the GDI

From urban to rural, from car to bike

Recommendations for measures for the establishment of a “bicycle culture” in the district of Heinsberg on the basis of a mobility type analysis and supported by expert interviews (PhD project by Tobias Berg M.A.


Modern societies are confronted with many different traffic-related problems. Many German cities, municipals and counties are shaped by motorized private transport (MPT) (Destatis 2016: 343). On the way to an environmentally acceptable, efficient, sustainable and safe mobility for all participants this centering has to be reconsidered and changed. Particularly on short and intermediate distances the bicycle offers a healthy and eco-friendly alternative to a car. But how can the bicycle be established as an alternative to motorized automobiles? Besides topography and infrastructure, sociological and psychological factors play a key role in the decision, if people use a bicycle as a means of daily transport or not. This dissertation aims at working out reasons for the choice for a specific means of transport by carrying out a mobility type analysis in the rural/suburban area of Heinsberg. Furthermore, this study will be complemented by a consultation of experts in terms of bicycle measures. The combined insights will inform recommendations for (political) actions that support the establishment of a “bicycle culture”.
This research project is carried out in the framework of the “Fortschrittskolleg ACCESS! More information about the project, which is funded by the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, you can find here: Fortschrittskolleg ACCESS!.


  • Destatis 2016: Räumliche Mobilität und regionale Unterschiede. Auszug aus dem Datenreport 2016. Online verfügbar unter https://www.destatis.de/DE/Publikationen/Datenreport/Downloads/Datenreport2016Kap11.pdf?__blob=publicationFile. Accessed on 10.07.2017.

  • Power, Gender and Fear in Urban Spaces

    A Critical Analysis of Power Structures and the Social Construction of “Spaces of Fear” Exemplified by Selected Spaces in Berlin and Cologne (PhD project by Sonja Gaedicke M.A.)


    Originating from the mass harassments against women on New Year’s Eve 2015 at the Central Station in Cologne the public discourse about assaults in urban places has increased.
    The debate about so called spaces of fear – not only concerning the Central Station in Cologne but on a national level – came to the fore of politics, media and science. For instance, the crime rates increased at the Kottbusser Tor in Berlin since the attacks in Cologne (Beikler 2016).
    In the pursued phd project the Central Station Forecourt in Cologne and the Kottbusser Tor in Berlin should be analyzed with regard to their social production as spaces of fear and their interwoven power structures. Who uses those spaces at which time? How are those places represented in the media? Who influences public discourse and thereby exercises power over those places and the behavior of the people which are using the places? What kind of people are avoiding the spaces? Can those places be described as public spaces when Habermas states that the public sphere has lost its publicness as soon as an assignable group is excluded from it (Habermas 1990)? Where begins the social construction of those places and is it linked to specific incidents? Are fear, feelings of insecurity and power used to justify an increase in expenses for police and surveillance?
    Those questions should be analyzed by using qualitative research methods.


  • Beikler, Sabine (2016): Was Innensenator Henkel am Kotti erlebte, tagesspiegel.de, http://www.tagesspiegel.de/berlin/cdu-politiker-im-problemkiez-in-berlin-kreuzberg-was-innensenator-henkel-am-kotti-erlebte/13788378.html, Zugegriffen am 20.09.2016.2016.
  • Habermas, Jürgen (1990): Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft, Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin.

  • Research Project – Diversity and Innovation

    Development of a diversity and innovation management concept for large research associations (PhD projecct by Linda Steuer M.Sc.)


    The potential of diversity in the development of innovations has already been discussed and investigated in many ways (Østergaard et al., 2011; Hewlett et al., 2013; Hoogendoorn et al., 2013; Mc Kinsey, 2015; Díaz-García et al., 2013). Approaches like Design Thinking which presuppose the existence of diverse teams (Erbeldinger & Ramge, 2013; Bergner & Rogler, 2013), emphasize the potential of heterogeneous teams. However, the implementation of appropriate management concepts is almost exclusively addressed in the private sector. Although diversity is a prevalent concept in the German science system, and the potential of a diverse workforce has been discussed more frequently, the potential of diversity in the scientific innovation process is hardly explored. On the basis of the specific organizational structure of research associations which is characterized by different subject-specific scientific cultures, it has to be assumed that processes as well as influencing factors are fundamentally different from private enterprises.
    Therefore, the aim of the doctoral thesis is to investigate factors that influence diversity and innovation approaches by means of an exemplary research network in engineering sciences. In the framework of the thesis, measures that can be applied to comparatively complex organizational systems will be derived. Based on the change management approach, a concept is developed which is intended to enable a sustainable implementation of a corresponding concept in an environment of engineering science.
    The research project is carried out within the framework of the Cluster of Excellence "Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries". The funding is provided through the Excellence Initiative and the German Research Foundation.


  • Østergaard, C. A.; Timmermans, B., & Kristinsson, K. (2011). Does a different view create something new? The effect of employee diversity on innovation. Research Policy 40, 500-509.
  • Hoogendoorn, S., Oosterbeek, H., & Van Praag, M. (2013). The impact of gender diversity on the performance of business teams: Evidence from a field experiment. Management Science, 59(7), 1514-1528.
  • Hewlett, S. A., Marshall, M., & Sherbin, L. (2013). How Diversity Can Drive Innovation. Harvard Business Review, December Issue.
  • Díaz-García, C., González-Moreno, A., & Sáez-Martínez, F. J. (2013). Gender diversity within R&D teams: impact on radicalness of innovation. Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, 15(2), 149-160.
  • Mc Kinsey (2015). Why diversity matters. Online available under: http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters, retrieved 01. March 2017.

  • Abschlussinformationen