Erfurt, 15 December 2022. IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU), the largest university in Germany, presents the IU Diversity Award once every six months for outstanding theses by its students. In the second semester of 2022, Maurice Spitzner (32) received the award for his bachelor's thesis in social work entitled: "From Pink Princesses and Blue Knights - The Construction of Gender Stereotypes and the Representation of Relationship Constellations in Luxembourg's Most Popular Picture Books"

The detailed, well-founded, and exceptionally good treatment of the topic, supplemented with interesting aspects and insights, prompted the jury to award the "IU Diversity Award Autumn 2022" to Maurice Spitzner. "This work shows that although the social discussion about diversity and gender has arrived in society, this is not being passed on in the broad media masses, nor to our youngest generation as it should be," said Nicola Schmidt-Geheb, Equality and Diversity Officer at IU, on the jury's reasoning.

More visibility of non-traditional family models in picture books needed

As the father of a young daughter, Maurice Spitzner noticed that role models, gender roles and relationship constellations in picture books are usually presented in a very traditional way. Although there are books that break with old patterns, these are not bought by the masses, but rather by people who already have an interest in the subject. He concludes that most portrayals are still very clichéd: girls in pink, boys in blue. However, the behavioural patterns are changing. There are brave girls and emotional boys, but when it comes to family, the traditional father-mother-child model still prevails. "You don't find single parents or same-sex couples. There is still a lot of room for improvement to increase the visibility of non-traditional family models that correspond to reality today and thus contribute to their appreciation," says Maurice Spitzner. 

About the author and award winner

Maurice lives and works in Luxembourg. Besides working in a residential facility for people with disabilities, he decided to do a part-time distance study in social work at IU. He saw the special added value in being able to apply what he had learned in his studies directly into practice in order to better support and promote the people he works with every day. With his degree, he further qualifies himself for advancement in the social sector. He would like to gain more experience in the coming years and then pursue a Master's degree.

About the IU Diversity Award

IU International University of Applied Sciences has presented the IU Diversity Award twice a year since 2018. It aims to contribute to raising public awareness on the research field of diversity. The award winners receive a prize of 500 euros. Further information on diversity and inclusion measures at IU can be found at: https://www.iu.de/en/university/diversity/


With over 100,000 students, IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) is the largest university in Germany. The private, state-approved educational institution with its main campus in Erfurt brings together more than 200 bachelor's and master's programmes under one roof, which are offered in German or English. Students can choose between dual studies, distance learning and myStudies, which combines online and face-to-face events, and design their studies independently with the help of a digitally supported learning environment. In addition, IU enables further training and promotes the idea of lifelong learning. The aim of the university is to give as many people as possible worldwide access to personalised education. IU started operations in 2000 and is now represented in more than 30 German cities. It cooperates with over 15,000 companies and actively supports them in the development of their employees. The partners include Motel One, VW Financial Services and Deutsche Bahn. Further information at: www.iu.org