Prof. Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder

Prof. Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder is an Arab sociologist and feminist activist who specializes in the sociology of education and gender studies in Israel. The first Bedouin woman in Israel to receive a doctorate, she is an associate professor in the School of Education at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where, in 2021, she was appointed Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion.

Prof. Abu-Rabia-Queder’s research focuses on how race and gender structure the educational experience of women and ethnic minorities in higher education, the workplace and family relations. Her academic interests developed from her life experience, which included elementary education in a traditional Bedouin village and her time as the only Arab student in a Hebrew-speaking Jewish high school in Be’er-Sheva. At the age of 18, she began her studies at Ben-Gurion University, where her personal insights became a springboard for activism and research. Teaching in a Bedouin school in Rahat, she was struck by how the school in which she worked lacked the resources she had enjoyed in the Jewish sector. She parleyed these insights into the first steps of her academic journey.

As a master’s student, Prof. Abu-Rabia-Queder’s thesis focused on educational and governmental policies that contribute to high dropout rates among female Bedouin students, a phenomenon that, in professional literature, had previously been characterized as the inevitable result of Bedouin cultural norms. In her PhD research, she dug deeper, conducting interviews characterizing how pioneering university-educated Bedouin women balanced their cosmopolitan dreams with the expectations of the families and villages in which they grew up and to which they planned to return.

After postdoctoral research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Oxford, Prof. Abu-Rabia-Queder joined Ben-Gurion University’s International School for Desert Studies and recently, the Department of Education, as a faculty member, where she went on to become the first Bedouin woman promoted to the rank of professor.

Prof. Abu-Rabia-Queder teaches courses on gender and feminism in the Arab world and on the sociology of racism in education. The author of numerous books and articles, she is also an activist for Arab women’s rights, and in 2019 won the Katan Award for social activism in academia, given by the Ruah Nashit (“Women’s Spirit”) Association. An inspiration to women and girls from the Bedouin community and beyond, Prof. Abu-Rabia-Queder’s personal and career path is devoted to bringing thoughtful people together to work toward a better future for women from marginalized communities, and a more hopeful future for all. She is married to Hassan and has three sons.

The degree is awarded to Prof. Abu-Rabia-Queder in recognition of her outstanding academic achievements in the sociology of education; her steadfast pursuit of excellence and inclusion, which has made her a powerful role model for Bedouin women as well as for other sectors of Israel’s society; and her untiring dedication to building a better world for minority women and marginalized communities.