Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities Admits Six New Members, All Men

Director says all-male group shows 'distressing' lack of female representation in senior academic faculty

Israel Academy of Sciences President Nili Cohen at Tel Aviv University, August 3, 2008.
\ Dan Keinan

The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities has announced Wednesday it admitted six new members, researchers in the humanities, exact sciences and medicine, all of them men.

The National Academy of Sciences was founded in 1961 to advance scientific activity in Israel and to advise the government on research projects of national importance. Part of its work is to develop and maintain ties with similar organizations in other countries, as well as presenting Israeli research at international conferences. New members are voted in by incumbents, and remain members for life. With the new inductees, the Academy will have 132 members, of whom only 17 are women.

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Academy Director Galia Pinzi said that she is aware of the "distressing" lack of women in the organization's ranks, and that the selection of Academy members is made on the basis of excellence in research alone. "The number of women among Academy members reveals the lack of representation of women among in senior academic staff in institutions of higher education in Israel," she said.

"The current president of the Academy and her predecessor, Prof. Ruth Arnon, act for the acceptance of excellent female scientists into the Academy. We hope the number of women in the Academy and other institutions will grow significantly in the coming years."

The new members are Prof. Yehuda Liebes, an EMET Prize winner and Israel Prize laureate in the field of Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who researches Kabala and Jewish mysticism; Prof. Jonatan Meir, of the Jewish philosophy department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, who studies Enlightenment literature, the Hassidic movement and Jewish mysticism; Prof. Aharon Maman, of the Hebrew language department of the Hebrew University, who researches medieval Hebrew and won the Israel Prize this year; Prof. Ilan Marek of the chemistry faculty at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, who was accepted last year as a member of the French Academy of Science; Prof. Michael Stone of the Islam and Middle Eastern studies department at the Hebrew University, who studies Jewish thought and literature from the Second Temple era as well as ancient Aramaic writings, and Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld of the Tel Aviv University Medical School, who is director of the Center for Autoimmune Diseases at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer.

Academy President Prof. Nili Cohen welcomed the new members. “The academy welcomes the admission of these elite researchers, who have the power to empower it and help it fulfill its mission of strengthening science in Israel,” she said.