Teaching the sciences to boys and girls in separate classes causes a significant increase in the performance of the girls, according to Knesset Science and Technology Committee Chairman MK Ronit Tirosh, a former director-general of the Education Ministry. She headed a discussion Wednesday about promoting science education.The benefits of gender separation for teaching the sciences was seconded by Prof. Noah Dana-Picard, president of the Jerusalem College of Technology, which teaches engineering and related subjects to observant men and women on separate campuses. He said that the lack of mixing “has proven itself at our institutions.”Weizmann Institute of Science President Prof. Daniel Zaijfman gave the example of France, which has the highest rate of women scientists because its educational system separated the sexes in science classes.Apparently, separation of the genders eliminates the feeling of intimidation that women and girls feel when competing with high-powered, science-oriented men and boys who are generally better prepared for and directed to these studies.Zaijfman said that gifted pupils from 17 high schools in the Tel Aviv area reach his campus in Rehovot on a regular basis to participate in high-level lessons in science from lecturers with doctorates.Prof. Ehud Keinan, president of the Israel Chemistry Society, said that youths from the periphery must be encouraged and helped to study science.He suggested establishing two centers: one in the the western Negev and the other in Yeroham-Dimona to deal with the problem. Tirosh said he agreed.