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Main Focus "Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Violence in Higher Education Contexts"

Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Violence (SHDV) are part of a phenomenon that occurs in its various forms in all areas of society. This issue has received more attention in recent years and German universities are also increasingly conducting research on the various forms and contexts in which sexualized forms of violence manifest themselves. However, German universities as places of occurrence generally remain unnoticed. Despite intensive and successful university efforts to promote equality and diversity, the topic of SHDV is often not taken into account, and there are hardly any studies that deal in-depth with the conditions, modes of functioning, and consequences of this phenomenon at universities. Even and especially universities as places of study and work with a hierarchical, dependency-shaped structure are not free from such assaults. At universities, however, such incidents are often negated. They see themselves as places of research, teaching and critical reflection that are largely free of discrimination. That is why it is often difficult to thematize and visualize the problem in a university context. In order to better understand and combat the phenomenon of sexualized violence at the university, it is necessary to examine the specific context of the organization of higher education and its modes of functioning. 

In order to investigate in depth the issue of SHDV and catch up with the international state of research, the MvBZ has placed a main focus on the topic of sexual harassment, discrimination and violence in higher education contexts since 2019.

This main focus combines different fields of work of the MvBZ and the team works on this topic in various projects and activities. The current research activities focus on the organizational contexts of SHDV at German universities, as well as the experiences of university players in this field. In this context, general modes of functioning, the correlation between the androcentric and hierarchical nature of the university and the occurrence of SHDV, as well as the effects and consequences of SHDV for university members are examined.

If you have experienced yourself sexualized harassment, discrimination and violence in higher education contexts, or witnessed SBDG in your academic environment, and would like to anonymously share this experience with the team, please follow this link to our platform, where we collect reports from those affected.

Transnational Research Project „Perspectives and Discourses on Sexual Harassment in International Higher Education Contexts”

The transnational research project “Perspectives and Discourses on Sexual Harassment in International Higher Education Contexts” investigates the prevalence, forms and effects of sexualized discrimination and violence at universities as well as structural implications. To this end, the MvBZ cooperates with partner universities from Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Japan, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and South Korea. In addition to the respective national contexts, the research cooperation aims to include sexualized harassment, discrimination and violence at universities, in particular as a global phenomenon. The concern of the project is also to raise the visibility of the topic at the university. In 2017/18, surveys on this topic were conducted at different partner universities and the results were presented and discussed in regular project meetings and at an international conference organized by the MvBZ. A joint publication on the transnational research was released in 2021.

Cooperation with the journal Debate Feminista (UNAM, Mexico)

In the context of the main focus on sexual harassment, discrimination and violence, the thematic cooperation between the Open Gender Journal, which is co-published by the MvBZ, and the Mexican journal Debate Feminista has been established. In the joint thematic section "Gender and Sexualized Harassment, Discrimination and Violence in Higher Education Contexts," scientific articles on the topic are published in parallel in both journals. The aim of this cooperation is to create a virtual place for the publication of research papers (in German, English and Spanish) on sexual violence in the context of higher education, to bundle and make visible the production of knowledge on the topic, and to promote the national and international networking of scholars in the thematic field. Click here for the call for papers. Contact: Tanja Wälty and Sabina García Peter.


Dr. Heike Pantelmann (heike.pantelmann@fu-berlin.de)

former project staff

Lina Knorr

Tanja Wälty

Inga Nüthen 

Nina Lawrenz

Hannah-Sophie Schüz 

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