History of the Center for the Promotion of Women’s and Gender Studies (ZEFG)
The Center for the Promotion of Women’s and Gender Studies (Zentraleinrichtung zur Förderung von Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung, ZEFG) was founded in 1981 with the objectives of both establishing the structural groundwork for the more equitable participation of female academics and integrating Women’s Studies and Gender Studies into scholarship and education. It was one of the first institutions of its kind at a West German university. Female students and lecturers at Freie Universität Berlin (and elsewhere) had paved the way. The establishment of the center had been preceded by a decade of feminist protests decrying androcentrism in academia and the underrepresentation of women in research and teaching.
Before it was folded into the Margherita von Brentano Center in early 2016, the ZEFG collaborated with the academic departments, the central institutes, and the gender equality officers to initiate, coordinate, and support teaching, research, and publication activities in the areas of Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, and Diversity Studies at Freie Universität Berlin.
Much of its remit (including gender in teaching, publication grants, maintaining data tabulations, and providing access to sources in the library) has been integrated into the Margherita von Brentano Center’s work.
2015 marked the 35th anniversary of the ZEFG's founding. On this occasion, the then managing director, who was still a member of the founding team of the institution, wrote the sketch "Kontinuität im Wandel" (Continuity and Change), which illustrates the prehistory, establishment and development of the ZEFG and thus traces how an institution of the Freie Universität made history. It has evolved from a coordinating center for Women's Studies and Women's Studies Research, for which there was no model at German universities at the beginning of the 1970s, into a funding institution for Women's and Gender Studies, which in turn served as a model for many subsequent institutions.
The ZEFG’s event archive is located here. Audio recordings were made of some of the events.
A list of former ZEFG staff members can be found here.