Few women in top academic positions

Women make up just 28 percent of all academic staff, ranking Israel lower than most EU countries.

May 31, 2013 02:18
1 minute read.
Young academics in Jerusalem

Women in academia. (photo credit: Israel Academy of Sciences)

Women constitute only 28 percent of the academic staff in colleges and university, despite a high rate of those receiving a masters or doctoral work, putting Israel near the bottom of the European Union member list for lecturers and professors.

A special conference for invitees on “Gender and Academic Careers in Israel” will be held on Monday at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and aims to increase the empowerment and gender equality in the academic world. It will be put on by the Young Academy branch, made up of academics under the age of 45 who want to contribute to creating a “new dialogue” on this issue.

In recent years, women have topped 50% in the rate of students pursuing all degrees yet there are fewer numbers of women in higher academic ranks, the organizers said. Only 15% of full professors are female.

The women’s share is low in technical fields such as engineering, computer sciences, physics and mathematics but they constitute a significant majority over men in paramedical fields and education.

At Monday’s conference, participants will discuss the unique difficulties that face women in academia. Young women scientists will present talks on their research and fields and serve as role models for women just beginning their studies.

They will discuss the “15:30” formula – in which young academic mothers can participate in lectures and departmental seminars despite having less free time.

Additionally, exam periods can be extended for new mothers and women will be encouraged to go abroad for post-doctoral work, even with family responsibilities.

The meeting will be opened by the academy’s president Prof. Ruth Arnon, one of the country’s leading scientists who helped develop the Copaxone drug for multiple sclerosis. Arnon is a strong advocate in bringing more women into the highest positions of academia.

The Young Academy was established in 2012 and has 26 high-ranking academics and functions independently within the academy. It includes both men and women and were chosen as members for a four-year term.

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