No Baby Left Behind

Special fund helps women researchers juggle children and an academic career
13 August 2018

This last June, Eyal Eden – 4 months-old at the time – was undoubtedly the youngest participant to attend a conference held at MIT on sub-linear algorithms. His mother, TAU doctoral student Talya Eden, took him with her when she presented her research at this key conference, thanks to a dedicated TAU travel grant fund for women researchers. The grant provides financial support for them to attend scientific conferences with their babies, helping them overcome the difficulty of having to balance between family life and the demands of academia.


This year, 20 women doctoral students and faculty members traveled to conferences across the globe thanks to the unique fund, which was initiated 3 years ago by the President's Advisor for Gender Equity and financed by the Office of the TAU President. The grant is meant to encourage women researchers – many times in the early stages of both motherhood and their academic career – to travel to the scientific conferences that are an inherent part of every researcher’s work. This assistance is not insignificant, as top-performing female students are often discouraged from pursuing doctoral studies or an academic career due to childcare issues or a lack of support from home.

“When it comes to leaving their young children behind to attend conferences overseas – whether to present or simply participate – women researchers are often confronted with obstacles or dilemmas that their male counterparts don’t experience,” stresses Prof. Ilana Eli, the current Advisor on Gender Equity.


Says Talya, who studies at the School of Electrical Engineering: “Attending the MIT conference was extremely important to me, since it brings together all the top researchers in my field, and takes place only once every two years. On the other hand, leaving Eyal behind at home at 4 months-old and while he was still breastfeeding was not an option.


“I’m happy I received assistance to take my baby. Presenting at the conference allowed me to create important research ties, open up to new ideas and approaches, and advance my academic career,” Talya says.

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