Information age

Intel joins Evelina de Rothschild school in promoting science careers for religious women.

evelina students 88 (photo credit: )
evelina students 88
(photo credit: )
Becoming housewives and mothers or finding a teaching job need not be the only choices for modern Orthodox Jewish young women, who are underrepresented in hi-tech industry - even though they have the brains for it. Intel-Israel - which has nearly 7,000 employees but still needs more highly qualified engineers and technicians - has forged a cooperative program with the venerable Evelina de Rothschild state religious school for girls to encourage pupils to prepare for scientific careers. The middle and high school, located on Jerusalem's Rehov Ussishkin and drawing its 450 pupils from a variety of neighborhoods, has made science and computer studies a full-fledged part of the curriculum, thanks to Intel-Jerusalem in Har Hotzvim, which provides ongoing assistance to the school. The partnership began as the result of a year-old initiative by school principal Daniel Zecharia to learn how hi-tech companies are run. Personal contacts led to Intel-Jerusalem CEO Yitzhak Ohayon agreeing to the program, now in its second year. "I want to thank Intel for broadening our pupils' horizons and encouraging observant girls to choose scientific majors that will open the door to the world of science and hi-tech," Zecharia said. The school integrates science studies with Jewish studies and courses in music, theater and communications along with a special Kolech program for the empowerment of religious women. A few weeks ago, pupils were invited to Jerusalem's Intel facility to meet with women managers, some of them observant, who serve as role models for the girls. They also followed the production of computer chips from their first concept to production, participated in workshops and listened to lectures. "We want to encourage the girls to choose scientific majors while still in high school," said Ohayon. "I would be glad to see you work for us at Intel-Israel, Teva, NDS or other hi-tech companies after your national or army service and higher education." Intel has launched numerous programs to encourage Israeli youth to be interested in science and technology due to its "corporate social responsibility," said Ohayon, "as it is preoccupied not only with the bottom line in financial reports." A few dozen of the school's 450 pupils were hosted last week in the Knesset auditorium by Knesset Science and Technology Committee chairman MK Zevulun Orlev, who is familiar with the school from years ago, when he served as director of its dormitory facility. "Our biggest treasure is our human resources," said Orlev. "As long as the state advances the level of its science and technology, it preserves brainpower as a national resource. As a society, we can't beg for donations." Israel, he noted, is one of only six countries in the world to develop space satellites, one of the top three countries in applications for patents of medications and medical equipment and one of the top five in publications of articles in scientific journals. But this is not enough, and all parts of the population must participate in these achievements, he said. Hadassah College deputy director Dr. Yitzhak Milgrom, who 25 years ago taught chemistry at Evelina, said there was a temptation to tell girls to choose easier majors rather than science subjects. "But they have potential. Their achievements in these subjects are lower than boys‚ but it isn't their fault. They were not encouraged. We at the Hadassah College are working to change this, as we have an arrangement with Evelina in which 11th and 12th graders can come to take courses for credit."