The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Access and Success of Haredi Women in Academic Computer-Science Studies

We investigated the experience of a unique minority group, that of Hasidic young women, who successfully studied undergraduate CS program. Despite their economic difficulties and wide knowledge gaps, their academic achievements were similar to those of other female groups.

Studies present the approach of general, mainly `western`, women to CS higher education, suggesting that certain factors, often referred to as barriers, deter women from CS.3,4 Meeting with the unique lifestyle of the Hasidic society,1 shows that the differences between Hasidic women compared to the general `Western` women, in terms of socio-cultural background, previous education and socio-economic status are striking. The Hasidic CS students represent an exceptional minority group. Not only are they women who are enrolled in CS studies, and hence, belong to an underrepresented group in CS — they are also exceptional within Hasidic society, because of their academic aspirations.

Using interviews and questionnaires,2 we found that two powerful motivating factors: (a) economic: their desire to support their Torah studying husband and the sacrifices made by the families while they study; and (b) social, the exceptionality of their decision within their community, which yielded some social buzz around them.

We present excerpts of Hasidic interviewees’ regarding their family status, the community to which they belong, their experience during the academic studies, and their attitudes towards the academic world, reflecting constant encounters within the campus as well as with their own society. In addition, we show students` scores and dropout rates, compared to other female students of the same program, and findings of a validated questionnaire, regarding the rank of factors that were involved in their decision to enroll to the program, and in their experience during the studies.

We discuss the ways academia can become accessible to this public.


1. Biale, D., Assaf, D., Brown, B., Gellman, U., Heilman, S. C., Rosman, M., Sagiv, G., & Wodzinsky, M. (2018). Hasidism, a New History. Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford.

2. Kolikant, Y. B.-D., & Genut, S. (2021). Change in order not to change: Ultraorthodox hasidic women’s experience in studying computer science. Computer Science Education, 1–26.

3. Lehman, K.J., Sax, L.J., & Zimmerman, H.B. (2017). Women planning to major in Computer Science: Who are they and what makes them unique? Computer Science Education, 26(4), 277-298. DOI: 10.1080/08993408.2016.1271536

4. Michell, D., Szorenyi, A., Falkner, K., & Szabo, C. (2017). Broadening participation not border protection: How universities can support women in CS. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Manaement, 39(4), 406-422. https/