A number of posters, flyers, and info leaflets have been posted and distributed at TU Berlin as part of the “Time for a Cultural Change! Fight Sexism in all its Forms” campaign to encourage people to reflect on sexist behavior and thinking in everyday life at the University. Among the campaign’s 10 themes are: “I am your colleague, not your sweetie,” “I am coming to the institute party but with my husband and child and not my girlfriend” and “Comment on her work, not her appearance.” The campaign is organized by the Coordinating Office for Women’s Advancement and Gender Equality and is one of 25 good practice examples for combating discrimination and sexualized violence selected by the Federal Anti-Discriminatory Agency on 27 July 2021 from the initiatives submitted in response to its call.
“Our campaign exposes the sexual insults, unequal assignment of roles, and slights which have crept, to some extent unnoticed, into our dealings with others. At the same time, the campaign is an invitation to all members of the University to contribute to cultural change and oppose sexism,” says Annica Peter, second deputy main women’s representative at TU Berlin. Workshops such as “Boys don’t cry” dealing with toxic masculinity, “Together we are stronger” focusing on the importance of solidarity, and “Basics of self-defense” complement the awareness-raising campaign. The workshops focused on what people affected can do when confronted with sexualized harassment. A blog published by the Coordinating Office provides further assistance and offers detailed information on sexism and the situations in which it occurs as well as free advising and continuing education offers.
“TU Berlin first published its Guidelines for Protection Against Sexual Discrimination, Harassment, and Violence in 1999. This details the correct procedures for dealing with complaints and possible action to be taken in cases of sexual discrimination, harassment, and violence. However, we had the impression that many people were not aware of these guidelines or the existence of the Coordinating Office and the other advising services at the University,” says Peter. Thanks to the campaign, this is no longer the case. “Our initiative was well received by a wide range of people at the University; our workshops were booked out almost immediately and the 700 posters we printed were quickly snatched up,” she adds.
Annica Peter is clearly delighted with the recognition of her unit’s work as an example of good practice: “This is a campaign about internal communication and as such I am all the more happy that our efforts have been recognized beyond Technische Universität Berlin!”