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Israel breaking down barriers for women in technology and engineeringMany efforts in Israel are being made to break down the glass ceiling for women in hi-tech and engineering industries. The Anières Elite Academy program gives high school students unique access to the engineering profession. To date, 30% of the student body is female and the number of female students is growing.
International Women’s Day brings a flurry of articles about the state of women in society. Year after year, we hear about the underrepresentation of women in the technological and engineering fields. One Israeli program is working all year long to bring more girls the chance at a career in engineering.
The number of women entering engineering programs is improving, but they are far from proportionally represented. Women currently make up the majority of students enrolled in universities (57.2%), however, they make up only 23.5% of engineering students in the USA. The cultural expectations for women to study social and other “soft” sciences still continue.
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There is a double challenge to increasing the numbers of women in engineering: making classes accessible to minority groups across the board and to change the perception of engineering as being a male only subject.
The 2012 OECD study in education found that only 4.5% of Israeli girls aged 15 saw their future career in the engineering field. In comparison, 15% of boys within the famed "start-up nation" saw engineering as their future profession.
While the activism and buzz surrounding International Women’s Day are making significant strides towards changing perceptions of what professions are open to women, concrete efforts are being made in Israel to break down this self-imposed glass ceiling. The Anières Elite Academy program is a collaboration between Naale Elite Academy (a joint project of the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Education) and World ORT to give high school students unique access to the engineering profession. Students in this accelerated program study in Israeli boarding schools while simultaneously studying at the renowned Technion in Haifa.
The program runs on a full scholarship and has encouraged the brightest minds from around the world to come to Israel to pursue their education. This has helped girls interested in engineering to make the leap into the profession with ongoing mentoring. To date, 30% of the student body is female and the number of female students is growing.
Anières Elite Academy Project Manager Ira Lotman explained, “Anières gives girls from around the world the encouragement they need to pursue a career in engineering. They see for themselves that with hard work, the sky is the limit.”
It is fitting that the country that is known around the world for its technological innovation is leading the drive to encourage girls to fulfill their potential. The start-ups of tomorrow are being created in the dreams of Israeli girls.
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