One of Israel's leading universities has now also become a leader in promoting women's empowerment, having filled a record number of positions with female candidates over the past year.
Since the start of the academic year in October, seven out of 13 deans at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology have been manned by female candidates, while 44% of those who have enrolled to the university are women. In addition, nine out of 27 new faculty members who recently joined the institution are women.
The Technion also this year has a record number of women at its Standing Committee for Senior Appointments, Promotions and Tenure, considered one of the most important in any academic institution. Although two years ago the committee had no woman at all, it is now composed of three women and five men.
Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan and his co-chair on academic matters led the change in gender diversity by repeatedly promoting the issue and encouraging women to participate in committees.
Other committees also include a high number of women, such as the Senate Secretariat, which consists of five women alongside six men, and the Senior Appointments, Promotions, and Grant of Tenure Committee, which includes three women and two men.
Nevertheless, the number of women on the senior academic staff stands at only 20%. Professor Ayellet Tal, the president's advisor on advancement of women in science and engineering, said the mission to change that is very challenging.
"The Technion's challenge on the issue is greater than of other institutions because its core fields of study - technology and engineering - are always characterized by a low representation of women," she said.
"The committee focused on aspects that could be changed in the short-term, and identified three major ones: increasing the number of female applicants for academic faculty, increasing the number of women in the institution's management staff, and improving the organizational order, while preventing unconsciously biases decisions."
The University of Haifa currently leads Israel's universities when it comes to the number of women on the senior academic staff, with 45%, followed by Ariel University with 40% and Tel Aviv University with 35%. At Ben Gurion University, Bar-Ilan University and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem at least 33% of the senior academic staff are women.