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Social Responsibility

WU is a public business and economics university which both contributes to and has a responsibility to society as a whole. Our excellent research and research-based teaching promote critical thinking and responsible business activities. We work to solve economic, social, and ecological problems faced by society today, and prepare our students for the challenges they will be faced with in a constantly changing world. We help our students become responsible, ethical members of the professional community and give them the skills they need to take new and innovative approaches. WU also recognizes its social responsibility in critical discourse with the public and as an employer, and strives for a fair and humanitarian society. We promote gender equality and equal opportunities, barrier-free accessibility, family-friendly working structures, and sustainability.

Gender & Diversity

Gender and diversity research investigates how gender relations and other aspects of diversity like ethnicity, class, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, etc. lead to hierarchization and exclusion in society and academics. WU’s Institute for Gender and Diversity in Organizations has been working in this field since 2002. Not only here, researchers at a number of other WU institutes, research institutes, and competence centers also investigate inequality in many forms (e.g. Institutional and Heterodox Economics, Sociology and Social Research, Business Education, Economics of Inequality, Sustainability). All of these researchers are making an important contribution to our understanding of how structural and organization barriers affect different groups and how these barriers can be removed.

Programs and initiatives

A wide variety of programs and initiatives are in place at WU to promote equality and equal opportunities, including:

For school-age and university students:

  • Children’s University Economics and Business: This program introduces schoolkids of all ages and social backgrounds to business and economics topics and science at an early age.

  • Volunteering@wu encourages learning and integration by bringing WU students together with young people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • Beable is a support program for students with physical impairments, chronic illnesses, disabilities, or learning disabilities.

For WU researchers:

  • Career Program for Women in Research: With this program, WU provides additional support to women researchers in planning and implementing their academic career.

  • Dr. Maria Schaumayer Habilitation Grant: This grant is intended to give junior researchers the opportunity to complete their work on a habilitation project by relieving them of teaching and administrative duties.

  • Post-doc habilitation positions for women: Post-doc positions of up to 6 years offering 4-6 women the opportunity to work on habilitation research with a reduced teaching load and relief from administrative duties.

  • Quality assurance in recruiting procedures increases transparency in the hiring process in an effort to increase the number of women in senior faculty positions.

  • Women in Science: A series of events on career and research topics and a mailing list give women researchers additional networking opportunities.

  • Female Scholar Program aims at connecting junior female scholars at WU with established international female scholars, making female academic role models visible, and revealing and illustrating strategies for academic career planning.

Hall of Femmes

Short portraits describe successful women who work at WU or have a connection to WU in some way: their career path, what motivates them, their individual success factors, and personal career recommendations for other women. The objective of this project is to make women at WU visible and to strengthen other women by introducing them to positive role models.

The Universities Act includes the following provisions:

  • Equality of the sexes, equality of social opportunity, special attention to the needs of the handicapped, compatibility of studies or career with the needs of those caring for children or other family members are among the guiding principles of universities (§2, nos. 9-13)

  • Gender equality and the advancement of women are defined as the task of every university (§3).

  • These social goals are an integral part of the three-year Performance Agreements negotiated between the universities and the respective ministry (§ 13 (2g)).

  • The university by-laws are required to regulate the establishment of an organizational unit responsible for the co-ordination of activities relating to equal opportunities, the advancement of women and gender research (§ 19 no. 7).

  • Every collegial body must be made up of at least 50% women (§20a).

  • A plan for the advancement of women and an equal opportunities plan are to be integrated into the by-laws (§20b). They serve to implement legally mandated equal treatment as stipulated in art. 7(2) and 3 of the Federal Constitutional Law and the Federal Equal Treatment Act. Note: The provision requiring an equal opportunities plan was added to the Universities Act with the 2015 amendment. WU is currently working on the implementation of this provision.

  • Universities are required to make efforts to achieve a balanced representation of men and women at work in all areas of university activities (§41).

  • The senate of each university shall establish a working group on equal opportunities responsible for combating gender discrimination as well as discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, religion or conviction, age, or sexual orientation (§42). 

A look back at the history of women at WU

Female students were not admitted to degree programs at Austrian universities until 1897. At that time, men had already been studying at Austria’s universities for several centuries. The University of World Trade, the institution that would later become today’s WU, was open to women from the year of its establishment in 1919. However, women were not given the right to obtain doctoral degrees until 1930. The first female student completed her doctorate in 1932. From that time on, the University of World Trade saw a slow but steady increase in the number of female graduates: in 1930, 4% of all graduates were women, and by 1970, the number of female graduates had risen to 16%.

Several dedicated female WU researchers have made important contributions to reducing the obstacles women face in academia by integrating topics of particular relevance to women into WU’s research and teaching activities. Starting in 1990, several legal changes resulted in improvements in this respect: As required by law, WU established an Equal Opportunities Working Group in 1991 to combat discrimination. Later the same year, the Working Group issued WU’s first Plan for the Advancement of Women. Specific programs and measures have been put in place to make further headway towards equal opportunities for women and men at WU.

Today, the numbers of female and male graduates are roughly the same at WU. However, the gender imbalances at the higher levels of the academic hierarchy are only shifting only slowly. In 2015, only 20 of WU’s 94 academic chairs were held by women.

WU facilities

At WU, the advancement of equal treatment and social equality is seen as everyone’s responsibility, most especially those in management positions. A number of activities are organized and institutional measures in place to ensure that equality is firmly established throughout WU.

The Equal Opportunities Working and the Gender und Diversity Policy Office are two special units required by the Universities Act that work in different areas towards the common goal of attaining equality at WU.

Equal Opportunities Working Group

The Equal Opportunities Working Group (EOWG) is an independent collegial body established by the senate to prevent discriminatory behavior by WU’s representatives on grounds of sex, gender, ethnicity, religion, worldview, age, or sexual orientation.

Gender and Diversity Policy Office

The Gender und Diversity Policy Office was established in the Rector’s Office to fulfill the following main tasks:

  • Advising the Rector’s Council on matters and processes related to promoting equal opportunities and gender equality

  • Developing concepts and support programs; evaluating and monitoring the implementation of the corresponding measures and processes

  • Coordinating responsibilities related to equal opportunities and affirmative action for women pursuant to § 19 (2), item 7 of the Universities Act 2002; linking these activities up with insights from gender research

  • Working to help raise awareness of matters related to equal opportunities at WU (e.g. drafting the WU Equal Opportunities Report)

A Family-Friendly University

It is very important to WU to help faculty, staff, and students achieve a healthy balance between academic and professional work and private life.

  • There is a child care center located on Campus WU, and WU also offers additional child-care services during events, seminars, etc.

  • WU provides laptops for employees on parental leave and offers special coaching services and other programs intended to make career re-entry easier for researchers who return to their job after a parental leave.

  • There is also a Dual Career Service center that provides support to dual-career couples.

  • In 2013, WU successfully completed the hochschuleundfamilie audit, certifying WU as a family-friendly university for both employees and students.

Accessible and Inclusive

WU is committed to offering equal opportunities for students and employees with and without disabilities. For this reason, barrier-free accessibility was a key design goal for WU’s Campus right from the start. In addition to the architectural features of the campus, a number of other steps have been taken to make it easier for people with disabilities to study or work at WU, including:

  • In cooperation with representatives of various interest groups, WU has published a set of guidelines for the inclusion of people with disabilities. These guidelines provide a foundation for the development of specific actions to encourage the inclusion of people with disabilities. 

  • A Disability Commissioner provides support to students with disabilities, chronic illnesses, psychological problems, and learning disorders to make it easier for them to successfully attend courses and take exams.

  • In addition, the beable program has been available at WU since the fall of 2013. In this program, experienced WU students act as mentors for fellow students with diabilities, providing assistance with administrative tasks and semester planning.

  • There are also disability representatives available for WU employees.

  • WU also participates in the CEOs on Wheels mentoring program, which aims to reduce social barriers for people with disabilities.

Facts and figures

  • 51.61% female graduates(not including first-degree graduates)

  • 22.45% female professors

  • 12% of WU students have ethnic minority backgrounds (first or second generation immigrants, both parents born abroad)

  • 9% of WU students have some kind of physical or psychological impairment (according to the 2011 survey on students’ social backgrounds)