Womens Prize

Happy International Women’s Day. In the midst of today’s hand wringing about women in science, here’s some good news: The Weizmann Institute has just been awarded a prize by the City of Barcelona for its efforts to promote women in science. Above: Barcelona Civil Rights councilor Francina Vila i Valls presents the award to the Institute’s Dr. Karina Yaniv.

The centerpiece of this effort is the Israel National Postdoctoral Program for Women in Science, which gives grants, on top of the postdoctoral scholarships these women receive, specifically to enable them to move their families abroad for a couple of years.

Aside from this program, the Weizmann Institute somehow manages to combine an intense immersion in scientific research with a family-friendly campus. Many of our researchers live on campus; day-care starts from a young age and the hours are flexible; children are a normal sight on campus grounds, and even in labs (where safety permits, it goes without saying). The women here will tell you this helps, along with a strong group of other women to talk to and who help one another out.

Of course, numbers of men and women professors are still unequal here, as they are everywhere else. Women face the same dilemmas when it comes to family vs career.

On the other hand, there is a wonderful, amazing group of women scientists here who manage to achieve everything their male counterparts do and more while raising families — often just at the point in time when their career is taking off. They include a Nobel laureate, Prof. Ada Yonath,the President of the Israel Academy of Science and the Humanities, Prof. Ruth Arnon, and many others. I never fail to be inspired after talking with one of these women scientists.

So while we continue to strive for more equality in research and academe, I propose we also take a minute to celebrate the achievements of women scientists.

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