Helping Girls Crack the STEM Glass Ceiling

This article was first published as “Israeli program gives girls boost in math, science” in JWeekly.

Israeli Orit Shulman in the Bay Area to promote “Cracking the Glass Ceiling” (photo credit: Renee Ghert-Zand

Israeli Orit Shulman in the Bay Area to promote “Cracking the Glass Ceiling” (photo credit: Renee Ghert-Zand

In some industries, women have cracked, if not broken, the glass ceiling. But when it comes to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), there is a paucity of women in these fields all over the world. Even in Israel.

Yes, the Jewish state had one of the first female prime ministers, and many women serve as pilots and combat soldiers in the country’s military.

But when it comes to STEM in Israel, women lag behind: The number of girls who graduate high school with a focus in STEM disciplines is half that of boys, and at one of Israel’s best universities for science and engineering, the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, only 35 percent of the students are women.

Orit Shulman, director of development and partnerships for the nonprofit Alliance–Kol Israel Haverim, is working to level that playing field. She was recently in the Bay Area to get the word out about a program it runs in Israeli schools.

The program, “Cracking the Glass Ceiling,” supports high school girls, mainly in areas that are socioeconomically disadvantaged. It identifies girls who do well in math and science, then raises their expectations (as well as those of their teachers and parents) for excelling in STEM fields.

The girls are identified in eighth grade, and the program supports them through 12th grade. It’s a major, five-year investment that Alliance believes will pay off in the long run — for both the girls themselves and Israeli society in general.

Click here to read more.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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