Multi-Cultural Women’s Leadership Program in Engineering and the Sciences Multi-Cultural Women’s Leadership Program in Engineering and the Sciences

Multi-Cultural Women’s Leadership Program in Engineering and the Sciences




Program Goals

  1. raise awareness of gender inequality / promote equal opportunity between the sexes
  2. cultivate a commitment to social responsibility and social change
  3. provide knowledge and tools to advance women as industry leaders, particularly in engineering
  4. expose and inspire female high school students to the options of higher education and STEM studies/careers
  5. unite and empower women of varying cultural backgrounds (such as Arab and Jewish) in Israel to work together and become leaders

Background

Worldwide, women are under-represented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and industry. In the U.S., while comprising almost half of the workforce, women comprise less than a quarter of those in engineering. In Israel, the engineering field is an extremely viable profession, as engineers in a variety of disciplines are crucial to business, government, and academic sectors. Training as an engineer is also a way for many to break the cycle of poverty and dependence and achieve self-sufficiency.

Women should be able to cultivate empowering engineering careers just as much as men. Traditional gender roles have contributed to a society, where less women pursue STEM education and careers. Azrieli College’s Multi-Cultural Women’s Leadership Program in Engineering and the Sciences places such societal gender issues, as well as empowerment tools and leadership training, right at its core, so that participants can strive to lead and succeed.

It takes things a step further by challenging the participants to apply what they’ve learned, mentoring female high school students and providing women’s empowerment intervention at an even earlier stage than they themselves experienced it. Thus, generations of young women who show promise in the STEM subjects can set their sights on a future in engineering and leadership from an earlier point, confident that it is a real option.

With our rate of female students at 34%, we strive for 51% female students. The program raises awareness of the status of women in Israeli society and of gender dialogue.

The program piloted during the 2010-11 academic year, in which 20 students participated. Since then, the program has continued to grow, with hundreds of participants over the years.

The program’s over-arching aim is to bring about social change, expressed through an increase in women acquiring academic degrees and careers in the sciences, technology, and engineering.

Program Components

The program is three years in length and is divided into two stages- theoretical and practical.

THEORETICAL:  focus on female college students, capacity building, leadership training

This component includes twelve meetings throughout the year. Each meeting is divided into two parts. The first part includes a presentation on a gender/ society topic, presented by women from the fields of engineering and academia, who represent various models of feminism and leadership. This is followed by a discussion, which facilitates learning from a personal perspective. There are three groups of college participants, those in their first year of participation, those in the second year, and those in the third year, each with their own series of relevant lectures and topics.

PRACTICAL: focus on female high school students, applying acquired tools, mentoring

This component includes collaboration by Azrieli students in a community project, “Engineering Ambassadors in Jerusalem.” The project goal is to mentor and encourage female high school students to consider higher education in the fields of engineering and the sciences, long considered fields for men.  The mentoring strengthens students’ self-image and broadens their educational horizons.  College students serve as role models who help develop new ways of thinking and encourage curiosity and confidence. This past year, we collaborated with two local high schools: Mae Boyar Boarding School and Beit Safafa High School.

Throughout the academic year, participants continue to receive instruction and training on various topics and their practical mentoring and facilitation activity. Program participants spend roughly 130 hours participating in the program throughout the academic year, including lectures, training, mentoring, industry tours, and events. Each college participant receives a partial tuition scholarship.

The project is partially funded by the government and private supporters, and we view these funders as our partners in making the program and its outcomes a reality.

There are a number of options for supporting the program, as well as naming the entire program.

Tax-deductible donations can be made in Israel and abroad.

For more information or to learn about additional departments and projects, please contact Judi Srebro at judisr@jce.ac.il or +972 54 768 1776.

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