Today more than ever, women are present at professional meetings, they are leaders and decision makers, managers and policy makers • This is to their benefit and to the benefit of their organizations

You might not know who Karenann Terrell, Kim Hammonds and Sheila Jordan are, but all of them are CIOs of giant American corporations. Terrell is CIO of Walmart, Hammonds is Co-Head of Technology and Operations at Deutsche Bank (after serving as CIO of Boeing), and Jordan is CIO of Symantec. When they began their professional careers there were fewer women at their side. Today they’re not alone – many more women hold senior positions in this field.

Like overseas, today Israel also has many more women who are IT directors in large organizations or who are leaders of companies in the IT field. Take for example Esther Levanon, who was CEO of the Israel stock exchange and previously was CIO of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet); Shimona Naveh, CIO of Excellence Nessuah Investment House; Lizy Gottesman, CIO of IDE Technologies; Chana Israel, CEO of MedaTech Information Technology; Shlomit Pinkas-Elkayam, founder and CEO of Edea AMC, and many other women who have succeeded in climbing the corporate ladder. The fact that I can list names shows that there aren’t enough of them, not only in the position of CIOs, but in all IT roles from R&D to application to support and so on.
A survey by recruitment company Harvey Nash shows a bleak picture: In 2013, only 8% of CIOs in American companies were women. In 14% of companies participating in the survey there were no women working in IT departments.

My story
I began my IT career 17 years ago as an ERP implementer at what was then Eshbel Technologies, and is now Priority. Over the years I held positions in various fields including consulting, project management, and business development. Today I am product manager at Priority and a member of the board. I have worked for years with the IT directors of large companies in different sectors and I see the change happening.

17 years ago, I was often the only woman in meetings. Although our company always had a high percentage of women, most of the directors that I worked with at our customer’s companies were men, especially those in senior positions.
Over the years, my women friends and I turned more and more to “professional” content roles such as application, project management, development of technical support and infrastructure, and we have advanced to the highest positions in the world of IT. Today more than ever, women are present at professional meetings, and they pave the way, lead, make decisions, direct and influence. How did it happen? It is a combination of things. First of all, more women are learning IT professions. In addition, there is more awareness among mid-level managers and company directors of the abilities women bring to the field. Maybe the most important factor is that women believe in themselves and in their abilities and show determination, ambition, and an unwillingness to give up or make compromises on their way to the top.

What do women bring to the world of IT?
Women contribute a great deal to the world of IT, for example, a wide, 360-degree perspective, good communication, multitasking abilities and the will to maximize a situation and not necessarily win it. Of course these are generalizations, but I think that anyone who has been on a team of men and women has seen how each of them makes their contribution and how the integration of different perspectives helps to promote common professional goals. It’s not about who is better. Research has shown the importance of diversity in professional teams; this is definitely true in IT as well.

This is the place to acknowledge the importance of education from an early age. We should encourage girls to take part in the world of technology, and to believe in their skills and abilities to stand up to challenges in any field. Women, on their part, have to take an ambitious approach that doesn’t give in and persists in climbing upwards; for themselves and for future generations.
The image of a woman mentor, a woman who is a role model for others, is truly important. I believe that every female director should be aware of this and of the fact that beyond the value she brings to her organization, and her own personal satisfaction and self-fulfillment, she plays a real role in the promotion of a more egalitarian society. If she made it, other women can too.

I would like to make a request of male and female directors: maintain standards of gender equality when assessing job candidates and when promoting employees. Recognize women staff members who excel, and encourage them to take on more responsibility and to develop and fulfill their potential. It pays off for the company you lead and for society at large.

Translation of an article by Keren Sherer-Taiber, Head of Product Management at Priority.
March 8, 2015, PC+ Magazine