Saturday, October 10, 2009

Women and Science

From the Jerusalem Post:
Women scientists say they want to be treated equally by their male colleagues and employers, but at the same time, special accommodations and grants would be welcome, as it is much more difficult for women to pursue their research careers without having a "wife" to back them up.

Now that Israeli women constitute a little bit more than half of all university students and medical students - and even a higher proportion of dental students - institutes of higher education have realized they have to pay attention.

Prof. Adi Kimchi, a molecular geneticist at the Weizmann Institute for Science in Rehovot and adviser to the institute president for promoting the status of women, told the Post that three years ago, it established a national prize for 11 outstanding women researchers in universities around the country. The money helps them go abroad for post-doctoral research and make arrangements for their children to be cared for when they are away. This year, 56 women applied for the prestigious grants. "This has opened the bottleneck for excellent women scientists who had a difficult time going abroad for studies," Kimchi said.

The Rehovot institute also has on-campus day care centers, nursery schools and kindergartens for babies through preschoolers among the academic staff that are open until 6 p.m. on weekdays.

Another unusual project introduces young women students to famous women scientists from Israel and abroad, including Prof. Elizabeth Blackburn, an Australian-American researcher at the University of California, who just shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak. "It is meant to establish female role models for them," said Kimchi.

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