woman school 88.
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A new initiative at the ORT Hermelin College of Engineering in Netanya seeks to encourage women to study technology.
The college, part of the ORT chain of seven engineering colleges throughout Israel, will offer women accepted to study in its technology programs a scholarship equal to half of the first year's tuition. A similar scholarship will be granted for the second and third years for students who achieve a grade average above 80 percent.
"Girls don't see themselves belonging to this field," according to Dr. Carmela Dekel, director of ORT Hermelin.
In her view, this is primarily due to an outdated notion that put fields such as applied engineering outside the spectrum of women's careers. "Once, technology involved blue overalls and grease," she explained to The Jerusalem Post. "But today it's all clean and computerized." Of 526 students at ORT Hermelin, only 115 are women, and only 15 of those study trades that are purely technological. Even at an engineering college, a large majority of female students gravitate toward fields such as industrial design or administration, despite the enormous potential technological trades hold for young people beginning their careers in Israel.
There is an abundance of positions for applied engineers at companies such as Motorola Israel, Intel and scores of other hi-tech manufacturers, both local and international. Intel's newest plant alone is expected to hire 2,000 applied engineers at high starting salaries. With an average starting salary ranging from NIS 6,000 to NIS 7,000 a month, the field is also remarkably lucrative.
But for Dekel, the problem isn't just about increasing opportunities for women. "Strengthening the presence of women in engineering and electronics," she says, allows Israeli industry "to take advantage of this important quality workforce."
A month ago, leaders of Israeli hi-tech, including Elisha Yanay, senior vice president of global giant Motorola, and Uri Uring, deputy director-general of defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd., told the Post that the lack of expert practical engineers in Israel amounted to "a very serious problem" and a "tremendous void" that harmed the country's technological competitiveness. For Dekel, encouraging women to enter this field is not just good for the women, but also for Israeli industry.
Pnina Zeevi, a project manager at Israel Aircraft Industries, sees technology education as the key to her own successful career.