At organizations such as Intel and the Technion, Israeli women are advancing high-tech innovation worldwide.
Shlomit Weiss is at the vanguard of a new generation of Israeli women in the tech world. In her roles at Intel, including her positions as vice president of the Intel Architecture Group and general manager of the Client Microprocessor Products Group, she is responsible for all client products based at the Intel offices in Haifa. Weiss oversees a large workforce that was produced by Israel’s top universities, including the Haifa-based Technion, known as Israel’s MIT. Weiss herself is an alumna of the Technion, which has programs in place that encourage women to enter technical fields and become leaders in scientific innovation.
Speaking at the Stand With Us International Women’s Conference, Weiss emphasized Israel’s advantages for high-tech companies like Intel, such as this nation’s 75 percent efficiency rate compared to the US.
She claimed that “paranoia” created by the security threats Israelis face encourages innovative thinking that focuses on the big picture. Additionally, she lauded Israel’s highly educated, hard working work force, which is characterized by a healthy dose of chutzpah that leads people to say what they think.
While strides in gender equality have been made, Weiss noted that “most of the people” working at Intel are still men. She noted, however, that Intel actively works to hire women, especially Israeli Arab women, to help them enter the profession. She believes part of her role as a woman in the high-tech world is to bring “a different perspective” to the table.
Mor Birnholtz, another Israeli woman working at Intel, addressed participants in a Stand With Us tour of Intel’s labs. She explained that her software working group is 50 percent female, which she believes is a reflection of the generous maternity leave Intel offers to mothers and its refusal to discriminate against women. “They never ask if a woman is pregnant or married in an interview,” Birnholtz stated.
According to Birnholtz, Intel was attracted to open a center in Israel because of the Technion, which boasts two Nobel Prize laureates. Another factor was the Israeli Army. “Lots of innovation comes from the army,” claimed Birnholtz. Specifically, when the Israeli army addresses a security threat, it often leads to major technological innovations that eventually result in start-ups. These factors prompted Intel to create one of the largest high-tech labs in the Middle East in Haifa.
Danny Shapiro, an employee of the Technion, claimed that 44 percent of doctorate students at his institution are presently women and that an increasing number of female faculty members are working there. He noted that the Technion has programs in place in order to encourage women to enter the technical fields, where they reach out to female high school students and help facilitate high level academic research for women in the field. These factors are all leading to Israeli women playing a more prominent role in high-tech innovation in Israel.
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel