“Before I started the Gender Studies master’s programme, I studied media cultural studies. I was asked the question what I exactly do in my studies so many times that it seems like umpteen times. If I would receive one euro every time I hear this question, I must not work anymore beside my studies. But this is another topic.
In this article, I would like to present to you the key research areas in gender studies. If you wonder what the gender studies are actually about and what topics they deal with, you get now an/my answer: For me, gender studies are primarily about critically questioning day-to-day matters of course and types of alleged naturalness. For this purpose, very different issues are examined. All key research areas have gender as central category of analysis in common.
A classic issue in this relatively young discipline is how current affairs, such as gender-specific division of labour, are rooted in history and how they changed over the course of time. Other key areas address the historical change of the conceptions of women and men and deal with the presentation and representation of gender in media, e.g. in movies or in ads.
Also, the generation of gender and gender difference are subjects of research. Representatives of post-structuralist approaches and queer theory investigate which power structures result from the differentiation between ‘male’ and ‘female’ and which social attributions are associated with gender, body and sexuality.
Moreover, you can find issues that address the situation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and non-binary persons. Here, it is about, among others, discrimination and stigmatisation. Especially the topic of discrimination connects the ‘gender’ category of analysis with additional social categories. What role does, for example, age or social class play? How is gender intertwined with other dimensions such as ethnicity, sexual orientation or dis_ability?
In this article, I could hardly go into all perspectives for which the concept ‘gender studies’ provides an umbrella. However, I can ensure you that this master’s programme is very diversified. People from a wide array of degree programmes engage in dialogue and work together. This interdisciplinary orientation is indeed also challenging for me, but I can always count on my fellow students’ support. We help each other and study together for exams. This solidarity is beyond comparison.” – Carmen Ruf
Carmen is studying Gender Studies at the University of Vienna.