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Data And Information On Gender Monitoring

Gender Monitoring In Practice

The practical implementation of the theoretical requirements for gender monitoring can pose challenges for universities and research organizations. This section describes how higher education institutions currently conceive gender monitoring and what concrete challenges they face in monitoring. While reflecting on the tension between theoretical demands on gender monitoring and practical implementation, this section provides recommendations and guidelines for monitoring at one's institution and selected indicators.

Gender monitoring at higher education institutions usually involves descriptive analyses based on quantitative data. Regularly, the statistics compare the proportions of men and women in certain academic positions. These analyses aim to verify gender equality goals, usually formulated as women's quotas.

Cascade Model

  • The cascade model usually determines the target women's quotas at the various academic qualification levels.
  • The targets for women at a specific academic career level are derived from the proportion of women at the career level below.
  • The cascade model aims to represent women in higher education through subject-specific, flexible, realistic targets.

Organization Of Gender Monitoring

  • Embedding gender monitoring in the organization and the available resources are crucial for implementing monitoring.
  • Gender monitoring should be part of the university's monitoring system and located in the administration. Thus, the required gender-disaggregated data is available and equal opportunities officers can access it.
  • Due to low resources, gender monitoring at universities of applied sciences and colleges of art and music is usually located in the equal opportunities offices and not in the administration. Equal opportunities officers in these institutions face the difficulty of requesting the data needed for monitoring from many different offices/faculties of the university.

Sex Counting

  • The differentiated presentation of statistical data by men and women reflects the status quo of equality and forms the basis for gender equality measures.
  • However, these data are only an abbreviated reflection of the genders' actual situation and experience.
  • If gender monitoring is limited to "counting heads", the multidimensional construct of gender equality is only mapped one-dimensionally.


  • Implementing more differentiated monitoring with several inequality-relevant characteristics and their intersection with gender is challenging due to a lack of data.
  • The effort of collecting differentiated data is very high due to data protection reasons.
  • Overall, diversity is still a young concept at higher education institutions that lacks (legal) anchoring in higher education policy.

(cf. Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main (2022): Gleichstellungs-Monitor 2021/22, page 7. URL:

Gender Diversity

  • Data that collect biological sex are not directly transferable to gender, the socially constructed categories.
  • Gender monitoring sometimes shows a blending or lack of differentiation between "sex" and "gender".
  • Gender entries in digital recording systems, privacy issues and low case numbers challenge gender monitoring when recording individuals who locate themselves outside the binary gender norm.
  • The recommendations for action (link in German) on gender diversity at higher education, issued by the Federal Conference of Gender Equality Officers in Higher Education in Germany (German abbreviation: bukof), provides information on gender entries in digital recording systems.

When looking at gender monitoring at higher education institutions, we found a tension between the theoretical requirements of gender monitoring and the practical implementation. Due to a lack of statistical data, legal challenges regarding data protection, and a high effort of data collection, there has been a gap between the theory and practice of gender monitoring at universities and research organizations.


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (2020): Die „Forschungsorientierten Gleichstellungsstandards“ der DFG: Zusammenfassung und Empfehlungen 2020. (URL: fog_empfehlungen_2020.pdf).

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main (2022): Gleichstellungs-Monitor 2021/22. (URL:

Gyamerah, Daniel; Wagner, Lucienne (2017): intersektional. Zur gesellschaftspolitischen Bedeutung von Antidiskriminierungs- und Gleichstellungsdaten. Published by neue deutsche organisationen: Berlin. (URL: 01_ndo_GLEICHSTELLUNGSDATEN_Intersektional.pdf).

Wroblewski, Angela; Kelle, Udo; Reith, Florian (2017): Einleitung: Gleichstellung messbar machen. In: Dies. (Ed.): Gleichstellung messbar machen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 1-14.

Against the tension between theory and implementation of gender monitoring, the following examples of monitoring at individual higher education institutions and handbooks for gender monitoring can help set up a gender monitoring system at one's institution.

Examples Of Gender Monitoring At Higher Education Institutions

We present four examples of gender monitoring at higher education institutions, which have received the rating “Gender equality: excellent!” within the framework of the third program period the program for women professors (link in German). The examples originated from universities and other higher education institutions to consider the different conditions. We selected the models because of their structure, clarity and differentiation.

  • Goethe University Frankfurt am Main: The university publishes a comprehensive Gender Equality Monitor (link in German) with data on gender relations among students, student assistants, research assistants, degrees and doctorates, post-doctoral degrees, appointments, third-party funding, academic and administrative-technical personnel, as well as committees and management positions. Graphics present the data clearly and vividly. The Gender Equality Monitor also discusses why diversity monitoring that goes beyond gender is not (yet) implemented.
  • University of Bremen (link in German): Graphs and tables provide data on gender relations for all university departments in the categories of students, graduates, mid-level academic staff, doctoral candidates, post-doctoral candidates and appointments. In addition, the annual report "Uni in Zahlen" (University in Figures) presents a chapter on gender equality (link in German), which reports the proportions of women in the various academic qualification levels based on the cascade model.
  • Schwäbisch Gmünd University of Education (link in German): The university rector's annual report (link in German) provides figures on gender relations regarding various academic positions, non-academic staff, students, doctorates, and appointments (graphical and tabular presentation in the appendix from p. 54).
  • Fulda University of Applied Sciences: Since 2019, the university has produced a gender monitoring report every two years. Data on students, graduates, doctoral candidates and academic staff are evaluated for the university and the individual departments. In addition, data on management positions, committees, and third-party funding, as well as personnel data differentiated according to temporary employment and scope of employment, are published for the university as a whole. The evaluation reflects the limitations of the monitoring.

Link Collection Monitoring Tools

Link Collection Gender Equality Goals/Plans

As described in the section "Gender monitoring at higher education institutions", monitorings focus primarily on the gender mainstreaming dimension of representations and partly on resources. The dimensions of realities and rights are rarely highlighted.

Based on the Gender Mainstreaming Indicator Model by Eckstein (2016/2017), the following section provides examples of selected indicators for all four dimensions and the different fields of action of higher education institutions.


1. Studies & teaching:

  • First-year students, undergraduates, and doctoral students (each differentiated by gender and field of study and, if possible, other dimensions)
  • Semester hours per week, supervised papers and exams by teaching staff

2. Research & development:

  • Number of women and men in different staff groups/salary grades
  • Gender representation in appointment procedures (including the composition of appointment committee, applicants, reviewers, hearings, appointments); aim for transparent and structured appointment procedures to avoid bias in favour of persons of one gender
  • Glass Ceiling Index (glass ceiling as an invisible barrier for women): Proportion of women professors to the proportion of women among the academic personnel. A value of 1 indicates equal career opportunities for men and women. An index above 1 indicates a glass ceiling effect, i.e., women are less represented in the highest academic positions than in higher education in general.
    • Note: The numerator (proportion of women professors) and the denominator (proportion of women in total academic staff) can affect a change in the index. Thus, the proportions of women should also be reported.
  • Career paths of women and men (so-called "leaky pipeline" ): proportion of women and men among those entitled to study, students, graduates (of various degrees), staff, lecturers, professors. The academic career is represented as a pipeline in which more women than men typically leave an academic career at each qualification level.
  • Bibliometric measures: ratio of men and women to active authors in a subject area or average team composition for publications (proportion of men and women). The indicator relates the active authors to the pool of all possible authors.

3. Institution & administration:

  • Gender structure in committees, commissions, administration and university management


1. Studies & teaching:

  • Cost per average student by gender
  • Gender distribution in scholarships

2. Research & development:

  • Gender pay gap among researchers: Average income of women as a percentage of the average income of men. The calculation distinguish the unadjusted gender pay gap and the adjusted gender pay gap, which considers the influence of aspects such as career choice and work experience.
  • Gender relations in the allocation of third-party funding

3. Institution & administration:

  • Gender pay gap in the overall organization (academic and non-academic staff)
  • Gender-differentiated data on employment conditions and working hours (full-time or part-time/fixed-term or permanent contract)

Rights (aspects of legal equality, implementation of legal frameworks and consideration of equal opportunities)

1. Studies & teaching

  • Establishment of a complaints office for sexualized discrimination (for students as well as for employees of the university)

2. Research & development

  • Gender equality in appointment guidelines

3. Institution & administration

  • Implementation of a legal framework in job advertisements (e.g. job titles, gender-sensitive language)

Realities (societal norms and values that create gender equality between men and women and gender knowledge/gender competence at research organizations)

 1. Studies & teaching:

  • Gender in teaching: number of compulsory/optional courses with gender dimensions or courses with gender dimensions at a higher education institution
  • Assessment of the status quo of gender equality by students (e.g. in teaching evaluations or climate surveys)

2. Research & development:

  • Embedding gender studies: e.g. percentage of dissertations integrating a gender dimension into their research area. The goal of the indicator is to prevent bias in research and integrate a gender dimension in research from the beginning of an academic career.
  • Climate survey on the satisfaction of the researcher/ all employees of the university (e.g. related to work-life balance; working hours; reconciliation of work and family; experiences of discrimination)
  • The Gender Equality and Monitoring (GEAM) Tool offers an online questionnaire on gender equality in scientific organisations. The tool includes questions on working conditions, stereotypes and bias, organisational culture, and behaviour and experiences (microaggressions, harassment, and the like). The questionnaire is available in several languages (including English, German, Polish, and Spanish).

3. Institution & administration:

  • Equal use of different work schedules/ arrangements
  • Transparency of processes (e.g. publication of gender reports)
  • Gender-sensitive language (e.g. on websites, correspondence, brochures)
  • Use of parental leave by men and women (including father-friendly policy)

Especially for the dimensions of rights and realities, finding suitable indicators for all three fields of action is a challenge for higher education institutions. For these dimensions, qualitative and subjective indicators are particularly relevant. Nevertheless, gender monitoring should not be limited to representation.

When developing indicators, the first step is to detect indicators that best fit the concept. In the second step, the ideal indicators are linked to available data. The two-step process helps to document blank spaces and limitations of the used indicators.


Eckstein, Kirstin (2016): Gleichstellungsindikatoren: Entwicklung und Einsatz von Gleichstellungsindikatoren an Universitäten. (URL: Gleichstellungsindikatoren.pdf).

Eckstein, Kirstin (2017): Gleichstellungsindikatoren an Universitäten – von der Berichterstattung zur Steuerung. In: Wroblewski, Angela; Kelle, Udo; Reith, Florian (Hg.): Gleichstellung messbar machen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 149-179.

Pimminger, Irene; Wroblewski, Angela (2017): Von geschlechtsdifferenzierten Daten zu Gender- und Gleichstellungsindikatoren. In: Wroblewski, Angela; Kelle, Udo; Reith, Florian (Hg.): Gleichstellung messbar machen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 61-79.

She Figures 2021 (2021). Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. (URL:

She Figures handbook 2021 (2021). Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. (URL:

Wroblewski, Angela (2017): Gender-Indikatoren in der Wissensbilanz – Grundlage für ein Gleichstellungsmonitoring oder Datenfriedhof? In: Wroblewski, Angela; Kelle, Udo; Reith, Florian (Ed.): Gleichstellung messbar machen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 171-190.