Darya Levitan is a role model for girls in male-dominated STEM subjects
Shining in maths competitions is nothing new for Darya Levitan, a student at World ORT’s Anieres Elite Academy in Israel. Since arriving in Israel she’s come third in the Israel Mathematics Olympiad and second in the international Taharut Ha’Irim mathematics Olympiad.
But her performance in this year’s Weizmann Institute of Science’s Joseph Gillis National Maths Olympics is remarkable because of the few girls who took part she was the only one to do well enough to receive a diploma.
International Women’s Day
It’s a reminder on International Women’s Day that girls have the ability to excel in STEM subjects but still have a way to go to until they achieve parity with boys.
Fewer than 50 of the 250 high school students taking part in this year’s Joseph Gillis Olympiad were girls and Darya was the only one to finish in the top 100,” said Ira Lotman, Anieres Elite Academy Project Manager. “It’s very important to the Israeli Ministry of Education and to Israel’s high tech sector that female talent in STEM is encouraged. But it’s not so easy – sometimes even parents discourage their daughters from studying such subjects because they think it’s not ‘feminine’. Darya has become a role model for us as we work towards a new gender-balanced generation of engineers.
On track for the Technion
Even among the star students of the Anieres Elite Academy, Darya, 18, shines brightly. She is one of only nine Year 10 students who have passed the gruelling entry exam to the special Technion study track. This means that while she completes high school at the WIZO Nahalal Youth Village she also attends undergraduate courses in Exact Science and Technology at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and earns points towards the degree she will do there after matriculating.
The $50 million Anières Elite Academy scholarship program brings together the brightest young minds from the Diaspora and Israel to study science and technology in high school and continue to the Technion for a degree in engineering and military service as engineers. The Anières Elite Academy aims to produce some 400 engineers over 17 years. To find out more visit their website.
For Darya, it has opened undreamed of opportunities.
“I came from a little Russian town called Naberezhnye Chelny. I wasn’t given big perspectives there and wanted to find a new life in Israel,” she said. “Over the three years I’ve been on the Anieres program I’ve got smarter and grown up; it’s changed my life completely! Here I’ve received support from the school, from counsellors, from Anieres and from the new friends I’ve made. And studying at the Technion is very interesting for someone like me who’s always looking from something new to learn. It’s given me a true sense of belonging to Israeli society.”