The Office for Advancement of Women in Academia
Dr. Hila Riemer | Presidential Adviser on the Advancement of Women in Academia | firstname.lastname@example.org
The website before you is a result of the great efforts made by members of the Women's Office at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. This office, which was established in 2000, when I began to serve as the President's Advisor for the Advancement of the Status of Women at the University, is constantly being transformed. I hope this website will serve as a source of information, a communication hub, and encourage fertile dialog amongst us.
What is the role of the "President's Advisor for the Advancement of the Status of Women"? There is no precise, official definition; therefore, the woman holding this position is free to develop and exercise it as she sees fit. This is an appointed position at every Israeli university. Unlike the situation at the other Israeli universities, our Women's Office also represents the women employed in the administrative and technical staffs, in the spirit of sisterhood and solidarity. My job encompasses a number of spheres:
1. The establishment of an active Women's Office on Campus.
Our office is active and has both women and men participants from the administrative and technical staffs, as well as from the academic faculty. We have a large E-mailing list, with hundreds of members, which we hope to expand. The plan is to have the Women's office officially recognized and publicized on Campus.
2. Conferences and events at BGU.
We have annual conferences, events, plays, workshops and meetings—all on issues relating to the status of women in society, such as: a conference on law and sexual harassment, a conference on women in the field of law, a play on violence towards women and evenings introducing new books published by women, etc.
3. Gathering data and doing research.
We recently published the findings of our research on the advancement of women members of the academic faculty at BGU. We found some improvement, but progress is slow. The "scissors effect" exists here as well; i.e., there are many women students (perhaps a majority), but the higher the academic ranking, the fewer women there are.
This year, we started some focus groups with graduate students to learn about their problems, the challenges they face, and to determine how our institution can best help. Our conclusions, regarding the percentage of women at various academic levels and after these focus group discussions, can be found on our website.
4. Changing BGU policy.
It is very important to us to be able to influence the laws and regulations on Campus. Thus far, we have succeeded in adding a section to the Academic Regulations allowing senior lecturers who have a baby, or a serious illness, or extended I.D.F. reserve duty to freeze the countdown towards a permanent employment status for up to a year. We also had the age limit removed from the application criteria for a "Kreitman" post-doctoral scholarship. It is interesting to note that the promotion of women also advances men and society in general.
5. The establishment of a support group for women doctoral students.
Women doctoral students must cope with stress and challenges, such as the integration of their academic career and their family life, economic hardships, etc. This support group may help.
6. Publishing the "Women at the University" bulletin.
This bulletin comes out each year. Its goals are to be informative, to raise awareness for the advancement of women on Campus and to put the issue of the promotion of women on the public University agenda.
7. Dealing with specific, personal complaints.
Every now and again, I receive complaints about injustice due to gender bias. I try to deal with each case in its own right.
I invite you all to join us, to participate in our activities, to suggest new ones, and to turn to us regarding any matter, personal or public, that is important to you.
About the Women's Office
The Women's office was established in order to promote the status of women at the University. To this end, it functions on a number of levels:
» to initiate projects
» to do research
» to hold academic, cultural events
» to change regulations
» to disseminate information via a communication network
» to publish the "Women at the University" bulletin
» to offer support and advice
Every few months, the Women's Office holds meetings in order to determine the issues for consideration, to formulate action plans and to follow up on progress. These meetings are open to all members of the office, but attendance is not mandatory for membership.
Part of the office's vision: The Women's Office should be recognized as a permanent University body and be granted center status.
A Women's Center could produce research papers, run projects to promote the status of women at the University and become a hub of academic and social activity on Campus—sponsoring events and counseling groups. This Center could serve as a source of support and provide mentors to women doctoral students, women academicians and women on the administrative and technical staffs. A Women's Center could give scholarships to women graduate students. The Center might also offer activities to the various University communities and to local residents, to encourage BGU involvement in the life of the community surrounding it.
The office invites women and men without distinction—the promotion of women advances all of society!
Questions can be directed to the Office Coordinator: