This spring, Tel Aviv has been buzzing with nods to innovation and technology. In the past year, we cheered for Wix and Waze as they hit the NASDAQ and joined Google, respectively. Accolades are doled out in ceremonies, and innovation continues to dominate in the technology landscape in Tel Aviv. As progressive as this development is, it’s lacking a major component- or another X chromosome for that matter.
According to a recent article in Bloomberg, women make up only 9 percent of the executive teams in Tel Aviv based tech startup. A number that is comparable with startups in Silicon Valley. The representation of women in the work force is arguably a function of cultural opportunity, status quo responsibilities, and chutzpah.
Last week a delegation from C200, a global women’s executive organization, came to Israel in their first ever group tour of the country and its remarkable companies. C200 is a member’s only network of the world’s most successful women entrepreneurs and corporate investors. During a luncheon at Tel Aviv University, female MBA scholars and executive C200 members discussed the burgeoning role of women in business, and how they made their ways to the C-level positions in companies from America to Paris.
As part of a panel discussion, we spoke about motherhood, opportunities, and taking chances with your career and your partner. But one of the most profound topics of discussion was what to do when opportunity knocks. One of the executives explained that her successful banking career was a culmination of opportunities and taking chances that she wasn’t quite ready for.
The main point of the discussion was as follows: When someone taps you on the shoulder and says, can you go climb that mountain over there? Say yes. Even if you don’t know how or think you don’t have the skill- just start climbing, learning, and doing your best.
If someone older, wiser, and more experienced than you already thinks you can do something and asks you to, chances are that you can. Women in the room that day (some of whom manage billions of dollars in accounts) echoed the sentiments stated by their peers, by sharing stories of potential roles that seemed daunting or perhaps “too big” for them to fill. But they took the role anyway. And they succeeded.
When I excitedly recounted this story to my fiancé who served in 8200, the IDF’s intelligence unit, he explained that this is the exact mentality everyone learns in the Israeli army. Belief in one’s self- even if the task seems beyond your natural ability, is at the core of success in training after training. And as we’ve read in Start-up nation, this phenomenon can be attributed to overall Israeli success.
Regardless as to where the message comes from, it’s important to remind women of the lesson. There is immense opportunity in the start-up nation. With a culture that fosters creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, Israel is a rare place where you can accelerate at a high speed and achieve things you never expected.
As long as you seek developing your career, your mentality as a woman in Israel is critical. Being ferociously determined with your career will undoubtedly lead to surprising doors, which you have every right to nudge open.