Fixing the “broken rung” is key to achieving parity in the workplace, according to a recent wide-ranging study by McKinsey and LeanIn, which surveyed almost 600 companies across the United States. The largest barrier to progress is the first step up between entry level and first-level management, which continues to impact the future talent pipeline.
While efforts to increase Arab and ultra-Orthodox participation in hi-tech have gained momentum in recent years,
When hi-tech development roles are considered, just 22% of technology positions and only 18% of technology management positions are filled by women, according to a report published last month by Start-Up Nation Central and the Israel Innovation Authority.
Ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday, The Jerusalem Post met with three female entrepreneurs to discuss their experiences, success and advice for those aspiring to follow in their footsteps.
“Progress is about not granting yourself any concessions – I come to work with self-confidence, I believe in my capabilities and I know what I bring to the table,” said Inbal Dayagi, head of R&D at CodeFuel, the search technology division of Nasdaq and Tel Aviv-listed Perion Network.
“I have a little girl and it is challenging to have a career and family, especially when work is very important,” said Dayagi, who served for eight years in the Israeli Air Force’s “Ofek 324” computing unit. “It’s a mix of ambition and flexibility offered by the workplace in terms of hours and sometimes working from home. A supportive family is also very helpful.”
For Dayagi, gender ought not to be an issue at all in the workplace. Just as she wants to pick up her child, that flexibility should also be offered to her male colleagues who wish to pick up their children.
“There is no right pathway into hi-tech leadership,” she added. “Women need to dare and take risks. From my experience, once you get to the interview stage, I don’t believe they are judging you according to your gender. It is about what you bring to the table.”
Like Dayagi, 26-year-old May Walter’s expertise in computer science was also fast-tracked by the military, where she served as an officer in an IDF security research unit. Today, she serves as the chief technological officer of post-purchase experience start-up Bond.
“Succeeding in hi-tech is really about persistence, about failing and keeping on going. You only need to succeed one time,” said Walter. “You never write more than a few lines of code that work. An iterative process is required in tech and in life. It is the same iteration of failing and getting back up.”
Mandatory military service can play a key role in
“You have the real opportunity of entering the hi-tech field in front of you and not just an idea of going to study something or trying it. It’s an opt-out and not an opt-in situation,” she said.
Diversity in the workplace is also likely to ensure better decisions, she added, for the same reason that investors build portfolios and do not depend on individual stocks.
“There is never just one truth, but it’s easier to get in a room and make a decision when everybody thinks the same,” said Walter. “It is about enlarging the depth of your portfolio, and getting the best decision out. Every time people disagree gracefully, it makes the organization better.”
Walter’s claim is backed up by statistics, with a Boston Consulting Group study published in 2018 revealing that companies with high levels of leadership team diversity report higher innovation revenue, and better overall financial performance.
McKinsey’s Delivering Through Diversity study, also published in 2018, found that company executive teams embracing gender diversity were 21% more likely to enjoy greater profit margins than their industry peers, and 27% more likely to outperform their peers on longer-term value creation.
Sight Diagnostics CTO Sarah Levy Schreier spent over a decade in the IDF, managing a cybersecurity department in an special technological unit belonging to the IDF Intelligence Corps. Based in Tel Aviv, Sight Diagnostics uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to carry out lab-grade complete blood count tests at point of care.
“In hi-tech companies in general, there is a need to excel, stand out and work hard. This is easier when work is done out of passion and interest. Women should face these challenges with no fear,” Schreier said.
“I’d recommend both men and women to try and dedicate the first years of their career to finding what they enjoy and trying to make an impact there. Many times this will pave the way for a continued successful career later, when building a family and trying to manage a more relaxed work-life balance. Many companies have come to appreciate the importance and benefits of gender-balanced work groups and women are currently encouraged to apply for leading positions in this industry.”
Schreier believes that the artificial intelligence industry exists due to the talent and creativity of the individuals behind it, and that respecting the lives and needs of employees is key to success. She adds that she was hired while three months pregnant, and the news did not represent a barrier to recruitment.
“I think the real difficulty that prevents young women from joining the industry is the challenge to combine work with motherhood,” Schreier said, adding that fathers face exactly the same challenge.
“The key to engaging more women is to build a work culture that treats mothers and fathers in a similar way — for example, to encourage both fathers and mothers to spend time with their families and to leave early at least 2–3 times a week to be with their children. Companies should cherish the importance of leisure and focus on goals and results rather than working hours.”
This content was originally published here.