Taking a stand against discrimination

What is discrimination?

Discrimination means the unequal treatment and disparagement of a person due to attributing them certain characteristics or due to the group to which they (supposedly) belong. Discrimination has many faces.

What exactly constitutes discrimination? The answer to this question is that it is the outcome that counts, not the intention or motivation behind an action or regulation, be it thoughtlessness or generally accepted administrative practice.

Discrimination can occur directly in interaction with others or indirectly through seemingly neutral procedures, rules, regulations or criteria. In other words, discrimination takes place when equals are treated unequally or persons in unequal circumstances are treated equally.

Discrimination affects people on grounds that should be protected, often on grounds of

  • gender, gender identity or gender expression
  • sexual orientation or identity
  • racial ascriptions, for example based on their heritage, appearance, behaviour or language
  • religion
  • disability or illness
  • age
  • social background

In higher education, family/care responsibilities are also an effective discriminatory category.

The term multiple discrimination refers to discrimination against a person on different grounds in different situations.

Multidimensional or intersectional discrimination occurs when two or multiple grounds operate simultaneously and interact in an inseparable manner, i.e. they cannot be considered separately from each other.

Discrimination categories

This overview of different ground of discrimination includes examples at different German universities and provides helpful tips and information for your work and studies at Ruhr University Bochum.

RUB Anti-Discrimination Office
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