Under the new measures, written documents will use the term Professorinnen when referring to professors in general. A footnote is to explain that male professors are also included in the description.
Physics professor Dr Josef Käs suggested the change as a joke because he was becoming weary of extended discussions about gendered language.
To his surprise, the university board voted in favour of the idea. The university’s president Beate Schücking approved the changes in early May and they are due to come into effect in the coming months.
However the move has not been welcomed in all circles.
“It’s a feminism which does language no good and doesn’t achieve anything concrete,” Professor of Law Bernd-Rüdiger Kern was quoted as saying by the online edition of Der Spiegel.
But Professor of Economics Friederike Maier, who is also a member of the EU Commission’s Network of Gender Equality and Employment has backed the change.
“When we women complain of being sidelined, as a rule our colleagues respond with a faint smile. Now that it’s the other way around, the men are grumbling. Maybe we’ll ultimately achieve a culture of gender equality,” she told duz Magazin.
At present 60 percent of students at the University of Leipzig are female, compared to just 40 percent of its staff.