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December 5, 2021 9:45 am

‘We Need to Normalize Having Women in Tech Management Positions,’ Say Israeli Executives

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avatar by Allon Sinai / CTech

A balloon is seen during a demonstration by Israeli startup High Hopes Labs who are developing a balloon that captures carbon directly from the atmosphere at a high altitude, in Petah Tikva, Israel November 3, 2021. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

CTech – Should the percentage of women employees in tech be artificially inflated, or should the hiring process only be skill-based? What are the advantages of having women in key roles and can an influx of women into tech solve the Israeli workforce shortage?

CTech presented all of these questions over recent weeks, and more, to nine women serving in senior roles in Israeli tech companies. Featured in Part 2 of this special project are Nogah Hendler, VP Product at Commit; Hadar Davidovich, VP of Engineering at Salto; Toot Shani, Managing Partner at Sarona Partners; Inbal Shalev, Head of Solutions Engineering at Placer.ai, and Tzurit Golan, Senior Vice President Human Resources at Fyber.

“I believe skills should be the only factor in the appointment for management roles,” insisted Hadar Davidovich, VP of Engineering at Salto, an SaaS platform configuration startup. “That shouldn’t reflect the number of women in management roles — women are no less talented than men. I do think companies should be aware of women’s needs, and provide a pleasant and flexible work environment, which is usually more important to women.”

“Research shows that having women in management positions is directly tied to a company’s success,” noted Nogah Hendler, VP Product at IoT development company Commit. “Securing women for management positions is not a charity community project! It is the way to make sure that the company will be a successful market leader.”

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Inbal Shalev, Head of Solutions Engineering at Placer.ai — a company providing location analytics and foot traffic data — spoke of the role society should play in promoting the number of women in management roles in tech companies.

“I do believe we as a society need to normalize women in management positions and that the initial push towards having more diversity in high management should sometimes be proactive. Still, choosing a woman should not come with a side dish of compromise,” she said. “Having women in key positions allows for multitudes of perspectives and voices to be heard within the organization. Representation of women in key positions also leads by example, showing other women in the organization that there is room for them to grow and shatters an invisible ceiling.”

“I believe a balanced management is important and an organization should make efforts to attract CVs of talented, skilled women — they are out there even if 80% of CVs you get organically are men,” stated Toot Shani, Managing Partner at Sarona Partners, which runs Sarona Ventures, Sarona Space, Sarona Innovation, and the scale-up program 365x.

“The key is primarily in the balance. Women-only leadership is also not recommended,” she continued. “Having women in key roles gives a balanced leadership where men and women sit together to guide the strategy of the organization. Women tend to focus on details, pay attention to the way the strategic moves will be perceived by others and so reflect on the company brand and reputation; and may be more cautious when it comes to taking hasty, uninformed or un-calculated actions. Also, women tend to bring a sense of home, belonging and family to the company and team that they lead.”

Tzurit Golan, Senior Vice President Human Resources at app monetizing company Fyber, believes that while a company should never need to settle on skills and compatibility for a position, an organization needs to ensure that gender balance is part of the company’s goals and strategy. “Management across the company should keep in mind that it’s easy to forget how important this is — and make it a priority in their hiring process, team building strategy and overall agenda and goals,” said Golan. “It’s not a cliche — women tend to have a more developed emotional intelligence, enabling them to be successful and thoughtful leaders. Developed emotional intelligence exists in managers of all genders, naturally — but emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, from my experience, do tend to be more developed with women leaders. Women are also better multi-taskers, which is an asset to any employee and manager in all professional organizations.”

Davidovich said that women generally have lower levels of self-esteem than men, and that is something companies shouldn’t ignore. “Companies should be aware of that, and actively promote women to senior and management positions,” she said. “Companies with gender variation work better — every problem has diverse perspectives, which leads to the best solutions. Furthermore, every professional topic is more businesslike and there’s less power struggles.”

Shalev stressed the importance of education. “We as a society should encourage women to pursue mathematics and computer science from an early age, encourage equal representation in technological army units that can impact a persons’ entire life route, and encourage higher representation for women in engineering lanes in subsidized university studies,” she said. “This would allow for the baseline of knowledge and opportunities to be more balanced. I also believe many women refrain from more technical studies or working in hi-tech because they believe they could not sustain family life. I think the recent COVID-19 pandemic really showed how flexibility of working hours from the employer can be helpful, when we as women need to juggle between work, family and keeping our sanity. Recent years show we can be more flexible with employees and gain much more doing so. More flexibility in the workplace can lead to higher representation of women within the industry.”

Golan said that one of the best ways to ensure more women come into tech is to ensure they know they have no limits within organizations. “There is no role that isn’t suitable for women at our company — from R&D, to Product, Marketing, Finance — all of it. We are proud to have leaders across our R&D and Product departments, in senior positions, for years. This is a story that we need to spread, to make sure women know from a young age that they can go and study computer science — and be leaders in tech. It’s not just a man’s world,” she stated.

Hendler echoed a similar sentiment. “Women should grow up within a society in which there are no ‘toys for girls and toys for boys,’ ‘classes for girls and classes for boys’ and so on. Gender differences need to be considered (as they are) a biological issue and nothing more,” she said. “If we want more women in the high-tech industry, they need to get the exact same attention that men are getting in all walks of life. And they need to get the message that they can do anything! Not as a slogan — but because it’s the truth.”

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