Software Engineering for Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Women Software Engineering for Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Women

Software Engineering for Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Women




Program goals

The program offers Haredi women the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Engineering and

  • enables them to acquire a viable academic profession;
  • helps them integrate into the professional workforce;
  • mobilizes them to become self-sufficient;
  • cultivates within them a sense of social and communal responsibility;
  • empowers them as women
  • respects and accommodates their cultural and religious needs

Background

Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox)

Within the ultra-Orthodox community, higher secular education was historically ignored, so that individuals could focus their time pursuing the study of Torah and other Jewish content. Without education and training in other areas, this community has found itself in a cycle of poverty, with no opportunity to integrate into the workforce. Over the years, community leaders have realized the need for career training in order to bolster the skills and professional potential for the community members.  There are a number of factors to consider when customizing a program for this population:

  • Men of the household are encouraged to devote significant time to the study of Torah. This necessitates the woman to acquire gainful employment, but in order to do so, she must have access to higher education and relevant training.
  • In order for these women to study toward an engineering degree, they must simultaneously be able to bring home a monthly income for living expenses.
  • The necessary monthly income must be significantly higher than that of other single students, as many ultra-Orthodox women at this age are already married and have started to build a family.

Challenges for Women

Women comprise 50.5% of Israel’s population (as of 2012, source: Central Bureau of Statistics) and 57.3% of all undergraduate students in Israeli Colleges and Universities. However, in subjects traditionally attributed to males, namely engineering and architecture, women comprise only 27.7% (27.3% in Colleges). In subjects such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and computer engineering, less than 10% of students are female. (Data is from the Israel Council for Higher Education (Students in Institutions of Higher Education by Field of Study, Level of Degree, Type of Institution and Sex, 2014/15) and the Israel Women’s Network. Data is collected for Engineering and Architecture together.)

Since women have traditionally shied away from the fields of engineering, which can provide social mobility, there is an even greater need to encourage women to study it and develop a successful career.

Program components

Azrieli College developed a program for Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) women, who face a triple challenge- the communities’ historical approach to higher secular education, lack of relevant substantial studies that will enable them to study engineering, and as women pursuing careers in engineering.

Launched in 2012, the program is 4.5 years in length. This includes a one semester pre-academic preparatory course (mechina), followed by eight semesters of study toward a degree in Software Engineering at Azrieli College’s separate campus for these students.

The components include:

  • Customized recruitment within the Haredi community by members of the community, including a selection process to choose eligible, motivated, and capable candidates
  • A specialized nine-semester curriculum and course schedule, reflecting aspects of the Jewish calendar and including Judaic studies
  • Study skills workshop and personal tutoring as needed
  • Tuition scholarship and monthly living expenses stipend as needed

Program partners

For a program like this to succeed, it requires the complete cooperation of the community it supports. To that end, the college partners with Tmura, an educational institution for ultra-Orthodox women, which provides educational, social, and community services.  Among the organization’s guiding principles is the belief that to reduce socio-economic gaps for the ultra-Orthodox sector we must strengthen its workforce.

  • Azrieli College of Engineering Jerusalem
    • Overall management of program
    • Separate classroom facilities (apart from the college’s main co-ed campus)
    • Academic management, course content and faculty
    • Tutoring services by motivated female Azrieli Jerusalem students with a strong will to help fellow students at the beginning of their course of study.
    • Study skills workshops, career counseling and job placement services
    • Tuition scholarships and living expenses stipends
  • Tmura
    • Recruitment and publicity within the ultra-Orthodox community
    • Rabbinic approval and guidance
    • Judaic studies and social programming

Students and Alumni

The program has 120 students and 28 graduates. Over 60 are finalizing their degree requirements and are working in their field with employers such as Intel, Cisco, Menora Mivtachim, Matrix, Zap Group, and the Israel Tax Authority.

There are a number of options for supporting the 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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