​University Senate decisions for the Promotion of Women

On May 10, 2009, the University Senate unanimously approved all of the proposals of the Central Committee for the Promotion of Women, and established a seven-member committee (4 women and 3 men) to follow up and implement them, collect feedback and present additional proposals.

Universities in Israel and abroad are actively working to implement the promotion and development of women in academic life, with the goal of achieving equal representation for women at all levels of the academic staff.  Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, which strives for both academic excellence and social justice, must commit itself to this issue through actions as well as words, and take a leadership position in the field.

Recognizing the existence of obstacles to the advancement of women in academic life, the Central Committee decided, in its meeting of June 3, 2007, to set up an ad hoc committee which would recommend actions needed to support the promotion of women in the junior and senior academic staff at Ben-Gurion University, and to provide women who are interested in an academic career with the same conditions and opportunities as those offered to men in the same field.

The committee members were (in alphabetical order):  Prof. Tamar Alexander, Prof. Yehudah Gardos, Prof. Motie Herskovitz, Prof. Vered Slonim-Nevo, Prof. Esther Priel, Prof. Varda Shoshan-Bermetz.  Prof. Priel, who served as initial chairperson, requested to be relieved of that position, but remained a member of the committee.  Prof. Herskovitz took her place as chairperson.

The committee collected data and checked the academic situation of women in both senior and junior academic positions in the various faculties of Ben-Gurion University.  The committee collected a great deal of information and studied the activities and recommendations of similar committees in Israel and abroad.  In light of the information gathered, the committee considered the various issues and factors which contribute to the relatively low number of women in academia, as well as to their advancement and status.  Specific needs were identified, mainly stemming from a woman's need to balance her career and family during specific periods of time, such as when working on her doctorate, and in particular between her entry into academic life and until she receives tenure.

Overall, the committee identified needs whose solution requires the adoption of concrete steps (financial, statutory), and actions needed to provide a "friendlier" and "more supportive" general atmosphere for women.

We should note that when making their recommendations, the committee took into consideration the clear and central criteria of maintaining academic excellence.

The recommendations are as follows:


The Central Committee will confirm its commitment, as an organ of the academic administration of the University, to promote women in Ben-Gurion University, with the aim of raising the proportion of women in the senior staff to a minimum of 50% at the level of Lecturer and Senior Lecturer, a minimum of 30% at the level of Associate Professor, and a minimum of 20% at the level of Full Professor.  The committee commits to reaching these goals within 5 years.

Steps will be taken to enhance awareness and understanding among members of the senior academic staff who are involved in the promotion and development of women, to the obstacles that researchers in Israel and abroad have identified as standing in the path of women academics, in order to change attitudes and promote equality.

The activities that will be undertaken as part of the affirmative action process will be published on the University website, and will also be distributed to women in a special memo that will be published periodically by the Academic Women's Forum.

Senior Faculty

Until full equality is reached, efforts will be made to increase the number of women on University and departmental committees, to at least 30% (per the model of the Board of Directors law in the public sector).

Special incentives will be set for departments that accept women as part of their staff, without lowering academic quality.

An internal competitive fund will be established, aimed at encouraging research and academic development of women in the first years of their career.

In the research administration, a dedicated service will be established for women at the beginning of their academic career, to direct them to areas of research.  This will be done by utilizing the knowledge and experience of retired staff members, who will volunteer to serve as mentors.

Every dean will deliver an annual report to the Rector, recording the status of the academic promotion of women in the respective faculties.

The number of years on the academic tenure "clock" for women will be extended by at least one year.

As much as possible, the teaching load will be eased for mothers of small children.  Should such a move result in an excessive burden on the departmental budget, a solution will be found at the university level.

​Junior Faculty

The "normative" period for submitting a doctorate (and not only for approving the proposal) will be extended by one year for women who are pregnant and/or have given birth (5 rather than 4 years).  The student will be eligible for a normative scholarship during the fifth year.

​As much as possible, doctoral students who are mothers to small children will not be assigned to teach in the afternoon.

For outstanding doctoral students (local or external), with the potential for recruitment to University staff, an attractive doctoral scholarship will be awarded for use in Israel or abroad – a dedicated fund will be set up to finance this scholarship.

A gender follow up will be made to trace the success of women in achieving scholarships for excellence, such as Kreitman Fellowships and Negev Scholarships, and considering which steps to take if inequality is discovered.