Shattering the glass ceiling, Israeli women receive more doctorates than men, even in traditionally male-dominated fields like the sciences.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced this year that it awarded the most doctorates ever since the university was established, bestowing 375 doctor of philosophy and doctor of law degrees. With 205 women receiving their doctorates, this marks the second year running that women graduates outweighed men.

Hebrew University is not alone, at least when it comes to science. At three major Israeli universities, more women than men earned their PhDs this year. At Tel Aviv University, 105 women received doctorates in the exact sciences, life sciences, engineering and medicine, as opposed to 95 men. Similarly, at Bar Ilan University 33 women received PhDs in the sciences, compared with 27 men.

As these statistics demonstrate, Israeli women remain at the forefront of the movement to break the glass ceiling. This marks a major shift from previous years, in which more men received doctorate degrees than women.

“It makes you feel that in the […] science field, a woman can make a mark,” says Daniella Nistenpover, a biomedical engineering major at the University of Haifa who plans to work in biomechanics or biomaterials research.

Hiring and promoting women in the sciences also gives Israeli start-ups and universities an edge, since women still must work harder and be smarter than men to succeed, says Hagit Messer-Yaron, President of the Open University and the Ministry of Science’s Chief Scientist from 2000 to 2003. “The women that make it to the top usually have to prove themselves and overcome hurdles that are above and beyond what men are required to do.”

Despite major progress, observers still see plenty of room for improvement. A relatively small number of women at the secondary level choose a science track education and most of the senior level faculty members in the sciences are still men, argues Hebrew University Presidential Advisor for Gender Affairs Professor Batsheva Kerem. In connection to the progress related to female PhD recipients, she notes, “It is good that we have overcome this.”

By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel