Women need support for technological careers, MKs told

By
November 11, 2010 05:48

“There is a division of roles between men and women," says Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev, "Women today are already educated enough.”

3 minute read.



Women study torah Talmud 248.88 AJ

Women study torah Talmud 248.88 AJ. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Young women are reluctant to go into engineering because of the “impossible hours” that day care centers are open. In addition, there are self-image and cultural problems, Open University president Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron told a joint meeting of Knesset Committees on the Status of Women and Science and Technology on Tuesday.

Messer-Yaron, a former director- general of the Science and Technology Ministry, said there were a number of roadblocks to increasing representation of women in the exact sciences. Besides the matter of image and culture, the objective problem was the need to offer accessible day care.

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European countries have invested a huge effort in this field, but have not succeeded. Raising women’s awareness of the possibility of careers in engineering is 90 percent of the solution, said the professor.

For every intelligent and capable woman who doesn’t reach her potential, Messer-Yaron continued, “there is a less-excellent man in her place. Integrating women as decisionmakers in industry improves economic competition because of the variety of views, concepts and styles.”

But Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev differed.

“There is a division of roles between men and women,” he told the committee. “Women today are already educated enough.”

Status of Women Committee chairman MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) called the claim that few women go into engineering because it is “too hard” for them baseless.

“More than half of medical students are women. Is [medicine] easier? The problem is that women are compartmentalized and regarded as unsuited to certain professions. So we have to see how we can encourage them to go into technological fields, which must be tailored to women with families,” she said.

“Intel has proved that if day-care centers are available on site, if work hours are made flexible and new mothers get longer maternity leave at full pay, it’s possible to hold onto women in the system and everyone is happy,” she asserted.

Science and Technology Committee chairman Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) added that “women are no less satisfactory [than men], and when they are given an opportunity, they are pathfinders. Science is one of the means to economic growth, and the low achievement levels of the educational system involve both sexes.

“Workplaces must give priority to women – because if there are no women, the workplaces suffer,” he continued. “Where there is active intervention and women are encouraged, the results are positive.”

Brig.-Gen. Gila Khalifi, adviser to the IDF chief of General Staff on women’s affairs, said that while only women can bring children into the world, they need their differences from men taken into account.

“In the IDF, we have identified tasks that women can do as airplane mechanics in which they don’t need big muscles. We have replaced ladders that weighed 32 kilos with light aluminum ones, and put toolboxes on wheels. This has made it possible for women to work in fields that previously were solely male.”

Science and Technology Committee chairman Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) added that “women are no less satisfactory [than men], and when they are given an opportunity, they are pathfinders. Science is one of the means to economic growth, and the low achievement levels of the educational system involve both sexes.

“Workplaces must give priority to women – because if there are no women, the workplaces suffer,” he continued. “Where there is active intervention and women are encouraged, the results are positive.”

Brig.-Gen. Gila Khalifi, adviser to the IDF chief of General Staff on women’s affairs, said that while only women can bring children into the world, they need their differences from men taken into account.

“In the IDF, we have identified tasks that women can do as airplane mechanics in which they don’t need big muscles. We have replaced ladders that weighed 32 kilos with light aluminum ones, and put toolboxes on wheels. This has made it possible for women to work in fields that previously were solely male.”


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