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Last Sunday, a group of 50 excited young women aged between 10—14 came to the SAP offices in Raanana. This was not a typical way to spend the first week of their summer vacations, these girls decided to give up a day at the beach to attend GIRLTECH@SAP: a conference for young women with the goal of  bridging gender gap in the Hi-Tech and Science Industries.

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Most of the participants were daughters of SAP employees along with groups from “College4All” and the Ethiopian Community. All had a chance to hear firsthand about the endless possibilities that lay within the fields of science and technology.  

The day was jam packed with interesting and engaging activities. Mickey Steiner, Managing Director SAP Labs IL, welcomed everyone with a warm introduction. Then girls were invited to an icebreaking activity where they practiced “networking” over chocolate milk and platters of sandwiches.

Next came “GirlTalk:” a panel of successful women role-models from the science and technology industries. Here, the girls had a chance to hear their success stories and how they made it in their fields. Stavit Navon, COO SAP Israel, explained that working four times harder than anyone else during her studies pushed her to the top of her class and helped her become more self aware of her capabilities.

 Dr. Nava Epstein talked about passion for her work, which  pushed her into cancer research. Meanwhile, Satellite engineer Maya Glickman explained how she over came here family’s objections to pursue her dreams (and how she was happy she did so!) Finally, entrepreneur Amit Knany discussed how she leveraged her love of internet to create Vikido.

After enough talk, the girls were now ready for some hands on experience. They moved on to a Scratch programming workshop where they created short animations and games.

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Last on the agenda was the keynote by Dr. Orna Berry, where she shared her personal story. She reflected on her childhood and pointed out what led to her to success. She patiently answered all questions and even gave out autographs to the eager participants.

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By reaching out to young women at this critical stage—just before they choose what to study—we had a great opportunity to make a difference. Through my involvement in the SAP Israel Business Network, whose goal is to empower women, I had the fortunate opportunity to participate in this wonderful initiative. While I was happy enough just to volunteer and help plan this event, seeing it come to life was truly gratifying.

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7 Comments

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  1. Marilyn Pratt
    Thanks for sharing this Maya.  I’m sure you would love to hear what Anne Hardy is doing here in the states as she would enjoy what you are doing to promote a love and interest in technology and science in a population that is very under-represented in the industry.
    When girls and women have a deeper understanding of the opportunities and better role models, the likelihood of participation in this and other industries increases.  A big bravo to you and your colleagues.
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    1. Kuhan Milroy
      This is great to see Maya. It is good to understand the local dynamics, how SAP is playing a stronger role and what experiences we can learn from.
      My old university (University of Victoria) had low woman attendance in computer science. The faculty performed a survey to younger woman of why they didn’t join computer science. Oddly enough, ‘the lab rooms smelled like body odor’ was high on the list. Putting the male students hygiene issues aside, it was clear that younger woman weren’t seeing the greater opportunities here.

      I’d be interested in knowing some of the demographics for woman in computer science in Israel? What is the class ratio? Perhaps some background on what made you decide to join?

      Cheers

      Kuhan

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  2. Trevor Naidoo
    It’s great to see initiatives like this & SAP getting involved.

    Apart from that, it’s like Kuhan’s University of Victoria survey, it would be a welcome change to nullify huge amounts of body odour & testosterone on SAP projects & the fresh perspectives that women bring would be welcomed with open arms 🙂

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  3. SherryAnne Meyer
    Congratulations!  This is excellent work with a very valuable objective.  I’m sure it took a bit of coordination and time on your part. What a nice way to introduce technology careers to young adults.
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