Thursday, February 21, 2013
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women hit glass ceiling in higher education
The Neaman study showed that, barring other impediments, the optimal number of ultra-Orthodox students would reach 20,000, half of them women. Given these numbers, it appears that Haredi men are already fulfilling the estimated quota, and that the real potential for increased numbers lies with the women.
Lead researcher Ilia Zatcovetsky says the unfulfilled potential may be a result of insufficient resources given to women who are considering higher level studies. "In addition, the courses currently open to this population are restricted to law and business administration. If options are expanded, student numbers will grow," he says.
Zatcovetsky's research determined that "the aim of higher education for ultra-Orthodox women is to enable them to set up and manage a household. Graduates of seminars are therefore mainly interested in providing for their families."
"Academic studies are only pursued as an option if it turns out that there is little demand for a trade or profession acquired in earlier studies. At this point, only a few ultra-Orthodox females acquire a profession with a high market demand."
Surge of Haredi students coming
Zatcovetsky says he believes that the next several years will see a surge of new ultra-Orthodox students, both male and female.
"The sector is undergoing accelerated changes, and this is reflected in the number and composition of students," he says. "As long as they don't feel that they are being coerced, we will see an increased flow of students into institutions of higher learning, as well as in conscripts to the IDF. As more ultra-Orthodox men see others studying and earning well, they will also express interest in higher learning. What is needed is a conceptual shift."
"We observe a growing trend to integrate general studies with studies at a yeshiva. There is a quiet revolution going on in the Haredi sector, with increased numbers seeking work and general studies, as well as enlistment in the IDF, without abandoning their way of life and loyalty to their community."