Athens, Ga. – A graduate of the University of Georgia College of Education has become the first Israeli Arab woman to be appointed an associate professor at an Israeli research university.
“This is a real breakthrough and a great accomplishment,” said Fadia Nasser-Abu Alhija, who is head of the department of curriculum planning and instruction at Tel Aviv University’s School of Education. “It is greatly important for other Arab women to have a role model to follow. We need more educated women to contribute their share in the development of our community.”
Nasser-Abu Alhija, who earned a Ph.D. in educational psychology with a concentration in research, evaluation, measurement and statistical methods from UGA in 1997, was appointed last month about 30 years after she began her teaching career at a high school in the Israeli Arab town of Tira.
“The UGA faculty and my two dissertation mentors provided me with state-of-the-art professional knowledge, skills and training in the domain of research, evaluation, measurement and statistics,” she said. “Being trained at UGA was a key factor in getting a position at an Israeli university.”
Joseph Wisenbaker, professor emeritus of educational psychology, served on her doctoral committee and was her major professor.
Nasser-Abu Alhija said there is a growing awareness among Arab women in Israel of the need and benefit of higher education.
“While this trend still needs to be systematically studied, I can suggest several reasons for it,” she said. “Access to modernization has brought Arab families to the realization that education increases girls’ chances to achieve a better life, economically and socially. Arab girls realize that education is a powerful tool by which they can cope with and overcome their inferior status in their own community compared to men and in Israeli society as a minority group. They are also being influenced by role modeling women in their community and from all around the world due to extensive access to media.”