Eleven young women who specialize in a gamut of subjects from parasites to nanocrystals are the first to receive generous grants to help them pursue research abroad to advance their scientific careers in Israel.
The awards, which will be granted to a new group of women each year, will help outstanding women scientists overcome the main bottleneck that impedes their professional training: conducting postdoctoral research abroad.
The two years of study are considered a critical step in which up-and-coming scientists must prove their ability to conduct independent research. Yet personal, financial and family considerations - which do not affect most male researchers - may all conspire to keep many women from being able to spend several years abroad. The result is a relatively small number of women entering the academic track compared to men.
In a festive ceremony at the Weizmann Institute of Science on Sunday, 11 young women scientists, who had completed their PhD studies with honors at several Israeli universities and academic institutions, each received an award of about $20,000 per year for two years.
These awards are being granted within the framework of the new Weizmann Institute Women in Science Program aimed at assisting highly talented young women to work toward a career in the natural or exact sciences. The goal of the program is to begin closing the gap between male and female scientists in the highest ranks of academia.
Recipients of the Sara Lee Schupf Postdoctoral Awards were selected by a special Feinberg Graduate School committee, headed by the Weizmann president's adviser for the advancement of women in science , Prof. Hadassa Degani, a distinguished scientist in her own right. The new program, funded by the Clore Foundation and S. Donald Sussman, is in its first year.
Three of the recipients conducted their doctoral studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, three at the Weizmann Institute of Science, two at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, two at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and one at Tel Aviv University.
All the women, many of whom are married and have children, expressed at the ceremony their gratitude for the opportunity to do their postdoctoral work abroad.