Biographical Notes

Dr. Ute Gerhard is Professor em. of Sociology at the University of Frankfurt/Main. She studied law, sociology and history at the Universities of Cologne, Göttingen and Bonn and began her professional career as a freelance journalist. After the birth of her three daughters, she returned to academia to write a dissertation on women’s work, family and law in the 19th century at the University of Bremen. She received her Ph.D. in 1977 and went on to conduct collaborative research focusing on the sociology of law at the University of Bremen, the Institute for Social Sciences in Hamburg, and as a visiting professor at the University of Hamburg. She wrote her “habilitation” (a second dissertation required in German academia), a book that was later translated into English (Debating Equality, Routledge 2001), and became professor of Sociology at the University of Frankfurt in 1987. She held the first professorship created at a German university dedicated to women and gender studies. Together with colleagues in history, film studies and literature she founded the Cornelia Goethe Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (CGC) in Frankfurt, an interdisciplinary institute that designed women and gender studies as part of the academic curriculum. Since its beginning in 1997, the Center has provided a forum for international and interdisciplinary research (➜ In the tradition of the Frankfurt School, the CGC has trained a whole generation of students in feminist critical theory and gender research.  (➜ Dissertations)

With a degree in law, sociology and history, Ute Gerhard’s approach has always been interdisciplinary. Her extensive research examines the history of women’s movements and women’s rights, feminist theory, social policy in the European context, and the history of law. She is the co-founder and co-editor of the leading journal Feministische Studien. Zeitschrift für interdisziplinäre Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung (Journal for Interdisciplinary Women’s and Gender Studies) and the co-editor of  L’Homme. Europäische Zeitschrift für Feministische Geschichtswissenschaft (European Review of Feminist History). She was a fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna in 1996, taught as a visiting professor at the University of Vienna in 1999 and at the University of Wisconsin/Madison in 2002. Gerhard was a member of several European networks on gender studies and social policy and the coordinator of the European research group “Working and Mothering. Social Practices and Social Policies”.  She was the co-author of an extensive study on “Gendering Citizenship in Western Europe. New challenges for citizenship research in a cross-national context”; a feminist critical examination of the contemporary European welfare states bringing together the issues of childcare, migration and global relations under the political concept of social citizenship.

Over the years Ute Gerhard has served as consultant to the Advisory Board for Women’s Policy in the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Women, Youth and Senior Citizens, to the Commission of Trade Unions and to the German Lutheran Church. In these positions as well as in her numerous publications she has advocated for gender as a critical category of analysis and for gender equality in every aspect of society.

Her lifelong engagement and her accomplishments as a trailblazer for gender equality were recognized with prestigious awards such as the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit), the Hessischen Kulturpreis für Wissenschaftsvermittlung (Hessian Cultural Award for Science Communication), and the Preis für Recht und Gesellschaft der Vereinigung für Rechtssoziologie (the Prize for Law and Society of the Association for Sociology of Law.)  Since her retirement from the University of Frankfurt in 2004, Ute Gerhard has continued to write about feminism, social movements and women’s rights knowing that gender studies empowers women and men to advocate for gender justice and enact lasting social change.

Selected recent publications in English, French and Italian:

  • Gendering Citizenship in Western Europe. New challenges for citizenship research in a cross-national context, with Lister, Ruth/Williams, Fiona/Anttonen, Anneli/Bussemaker, Jet/Heinen, Jacqueline/Johansson, Stina/Leira, Arnlaug/Siim, Birte/Tobio, Constanza, Bristol 2007, The Policy Press
  • Working Mothers in Europe. A Comparison of Policies and Practices, with Trudie Knijn/Anja Weckwert (Eds), Cheltenham/Northhampton 2005, Edward Elgar
  • Illegitimate daughters‘: The Relationship between Feminism and Sociology, in: Barbara L. Marshall/Anne Witz (eds.): Engendering the Social. Feminist Encounters with Sociological Theory, Berkshire 2004: Open University Press, 114-135
  • Debating Women’s Equality. Toward a Feminist Theory of Law from a European Perspective, New Brunswick, NJ 2001: Rutgers University Press
  • Il 1989, un anno di svolta per il femminismo e il socialismo: una storia di esperienze diverse e di continue separazioni, in: Alisa Del Re (Ed.), Donna Politica Politica Utopia, Padova 2011: Il Poligrafo, 161-179