SAGS was founded in 1997 as a network of researchers from the field of gender studies in Switzerland who had an active interest in developing the field in Switzerland and in promoting its institutional representation. In 2010, SAGS revised its charter and since then has intensified its commitment to the concerns of gender studies at universities, in research, in education politics and in society. In 2015, SAGS founded its thematic working groups at a research workshop and networking conference. In 2016, SAGS became a member of the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW). Also in 2016, SAGS launched an award called the Brigitte-Schnegg-Prize to honor outstanding scientific work in the field of gender studies. The prize is awarded every two years at the general assembly.
History of Gender Studies in Switzerland
The institutionalization of gender studies as an academic field in Switzerland happened fairly late. The first academic professorship in the field of gender studies for Women’s and Gender History was appointed at the University of Basel in 1997, which furthered the feminist movement in Switzerland by establishing it as an academic practice. Since then, gender studies and gender research have become firmly established as an independent field of research in Swiss academia and are also integrated into a wide variety of disciplines and departments.
Gender studies have now been recognized as a pioneering field of research for over thirty years. In Switzerland, institutional recognition began in the 1990s: the first professorship with an explicit focus on gender was created at the Department of History at the University of Basel in 1997 and the first professorship for gender studies as an independent field was appointed in 2001, also in Basel. It is now generally recognized by higher education institutions that gender studies should be established and preserved in Switzerland as an innovative field of teaching and research. This goal was pursued by the Gender Studies Switzerland Network, a cooperation project between nine Swiss universities (Bern, Basel, Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, Neuchâtel, St. Gallen and Zurich) and funded by the University Conference (SUK). The network focused on developing complementary study programs and graduate programs in the field of gender studies.
By now, gender studies are firmly established both as an independent field of research as well as an integrated part of different disciplines. There is a wide range of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs for gender studies throughout Switzerland. In addition, research networks such as LIEGE, and the nationwide Internet platform "Gender Campus" have been created to provide information on gender-related research activities as well as courses and programs offered in the field of gender studies at different universities.
Gender studies in Switzerland are characterized by inter- and transdisciplinary diversity. Furthermore, gender studies in Switzerland are strongly committed to an exchange beyond language barriers and theoretical traditions. This is an asset of gender-focused research in Switzerland that is relevant internationally. While debates in the field of gender studies in Switzerland’s French regions are strongly attached to debates in other French-speaking countries, which are notably influenced by the journal "Nouvelles Questions Féministes," research by academics from the German-speaking parts of Switzerland are mainly represented in German and Anglo-American discussions and publications.