gender Inn puts great emphasis on the careful indexing of documents. Up to 20 keywords are assigned to every document, using a specifically developed keyword index (feminist thesaurus).
The database's WWW-pages are available both in German and English.
With the growing number of resources came the idea to computerise the assembled data in a searchable database thus allowing for more detailed and specified research. Based on advanced bibliographical software (called LIDOS) and a thesaurus, specifically worked out to fit the contents, this new database became available to the public in 1990. However, at this stage, it was not possible for students and researchers to search the database themselves. Requests for bibliographies had to be directed to and answered by the database's staff. In order to provide wider access to the data collection in 1996 plans were made (in co-operation with the University's Regional Computing Centre) to transfer all records onto a new Internet-database, thus offering the opportunity for online-research.
First of all, the complete data collection was made available on the WWW. The second major change concerned the database's presentation on the net. In an interdisciplinary collaboration with the Department of Design at the Fachhochschule Köln (Cologne Polytechnic) the database was given a new graphic design. The participants in the project also developed the final structure and outlook of the new web- pages, emphasizing transparency and user-friendliness. Finally, the database (hitherto simply called 'Women's and Gender Studies Database') received its present name.
The new name will require a short explanation for non-German speakers. The English word 'Inn' is used to imply hospitality, openness or, more generally, a place to meet. In addition, 'inn' is a German suffix which is often used to mark the female sex (when referring to professions). Thus: 'Lehrer' (male teacher) and 'Lehrerin' (female teacher), and the plural form 'Lehrerinnen' (female teachers). Feminist linguists have suggested a different practice: Rather than using the form 'inn' in order to append, as it were, the female to the male they have suggested the spelling 'LehrerInnen' (with capital 'I') as a generic term, denoting both the female and male sex. As yet, this form remains fairly rare in everyday German usage. It goes without saying, that gender Inn is keen to foster its wider use.
Over the last months the number of visitors accessing the English version of the database has steadily increased. When, in March 1998, the database was featured as a selection in the Intenet Scout Report, which selects and introduces valuable Internet resources, the number of visitors of the English version for the first time exceeded the number of visitors on the German pages. In view of these developments we are optimistic, that, once the complete English version will be available, gender Inn will continue to grow and establish itself as a useful resource for research into women's and gender studies and an integral part of women's and gender studies on the World Wide Web.