Statistics released by Israel's ministry of education have confirmed the continuation of a recent trend that has seen females comprising an ever-increasing percentage of the university population.
Out of 91,400 students in Israel's universities during the 1994/95 academic year, 54.4 per cent were female. This figure rises to 65 per cent in the college sector.
The sex ratio was more pronounced in some fields than in others. Arts and humanities exhibited the most unequal ratio with 74.6 per cent of students being female, while the social sciences attracted classes where 56.9 per cent were female.
The natural sciences and engineering continued to exhibit a male bias however, with 43 per cent and 18.8 per cent female attendance respectively. Law classes were almost evenly balanced between the sexes and a strong move towards equality was also recorded among those learning agriculture with 43.3 per cent of students being women.
Perhaps the most striking feature is the continued increase in the number of women taking postgraduate degrees. While Israel's undergraduate population has always been reasonably well balanced with regard to sex, very few women used to register for second and third degrees and even fewer ever completed their studies. The past five years has seen a steady improvement in the situation however, and among those registered for a masters degree or a doctorate in 1994/95, 55 per cent and 44.6 per cent respectively were women.
The growth in the numbers of women taking postgraduate courses is associated with an increased presence in middle and senior management positions. Dan Amir, rector of Tel Aviv University, pointed out that "more and more people are taking second and third degrees as part of their ongoing professional training, often on a part-time basis".