The Technion Senate released a historic declaration outlining their vision for adequate gender representation among the Technion faculty.
“Technion’s gates are open to faculty and staff members, as well as to students, of all genders, ethnicities, religions, and nationalities. Technion recognizes the value of human diversity for ensuring a social environment that fosters curiosity, imagination, creativity, achievement, and critical thinking while seeking the truth,” the declaration said. “The members of Technion’s academic faculty, Senate, and management are aware of the absence of adequate gender representation at this time (2021) — a reflection of historical, cultural, and social circumstances. They are committed to continuing to act relentlessly to correct the situation: enriching human diversity and nurturing fair gender representation at every level of the institution, while safeguarding quality and egalitarian academic standards.”
The declaration is the result of an exhaustive evaluation, conducted by a special committee beginning in 2020. The committee was established by President Uri Sivan, who wanted to examine ways to increase the representation of women in Technion’s senior academic faculty, committees, management, and other influential roles.
Said Prof. Sivan, “The committee was formed out of recognition that diversity in general, and gender diversity in particular, is important for better science and research, and for cultivating superior academic institutions and a superior society that is fairer and more respectful. The Senate’s declaration on this subject emphasizes the importance that Technion places on this issue.”
The committee noted that, despite the constant improvement in the representation of women in Technion’s faculty and management, there is still a long way to go. In general, women face more challenges in their academic careers, with the post-doctoral stage being an especially problematic bottleneck. There are many reasons for the inadequate representation of women among the senior academic faculty and various other positions of influence. These include education in middle school and high school, culture in general and organizational culture in particular, and personal and family expectations..
The committee identified three aspects that could be changed at Technion in the short-term to increase the number of women faculty: increasing the number of women candidates applying to faculty positions and the number of women who accept the offer; increasing the number of women in management positions, on committees, and in key positions; and improving the organizational atmosphere and preventing subconscious biases. The committee also recommended that the Technion appoint a deputy to the President responsible for diversity, and establish an office of gender, ethnic, and other diversity affairs at Technion.
While the committee found several areas of improvement, they also uncovered reasons to be optimistic. “We also examined the promotion process at Technion. We discovered that since 2000 there has been no difference between the timing of promotions for men and women in Technion’s academic faculty,” said Prof. Ayelet Tal, one of the committee’s leaders. “This is one of the optimistic facts we discovered, and it indicates that positive change is already happening.”