Being a Woman in Different Dimensions

Last week, I had the great honor of being invited to speak at the 2017 Women Economic Forum in New Delhi, India. This global event brings together women from around the world to build connections and create empowering peer-exchanges to foster interdisciplinary learning and networking. I was incredibly inspired by the many talented women I met from across the world, and I was energized by every moment of learning and sharing.

In addition to making connections with amazing, powerful international women, I had the opportunity to spend time with the Israeli delegation of the WEF. Together, we built what will surely be lifelong bonds between us. The Israeli Embassy also welcomed us warmly, and we
even participated in the Indo-Israel Women Entrepreneurs Forum and Smart Cities Expo.

To give you a taste of the variety of issues I presented on, I’ll share some points from the talks I gave over the 6-day forum. I spoke about self-love and how to be successful as a woman in the male-dominated tech workplace. I also shared my perspective about the differences
between being a woman in Turkey and Israel. Finally, I talked about my approach to personal leadership, mentoring, and networking in general.

From “Own Your Image”

We spend far more time than we realize focusing on how people view us. As a result, we don’t take the time to love ourselves or the image that we see when we look in the mirror. Instead,we wear masks: a Business Mask, Friend Mask, Family Mask, and many others.
When I mentor people, I ask them to come up with 3 words they believe others think best describe them. Then I ask them to check with 3 people who are close to them (family/good friends) and 3 less close people (work/other circles) and ask: what are the first 3 words that
come to mind when you think about me? Sometimes, my mentees are surprised with the results, because it turns out that both groups of people think more highly of the mentee than he or she expected. Other times, they receive the responses that they expected.

Whether this is good or bad is up to the individual. You must decide what image you want to leave on people when you meet them, and that means loving yourself enough to own your own image and love your own personality.

Spend more time in front of mirror, and appreciate what you see and who you are!

From “Women Empowerment in Technology”

There are 30% fewer women than men working in technology worldwide. This number must increase. Why is it so important to have more women in tech workplaces?

Because we women bring diversity of thinking and feeling to a workspace. When you have this kind of diversity, it makes all the conversations richer. Women think differently from men. We
are maternal, nurturing. We take on challenges that others are not interested in taking on. We know how to multitask, and we can see beyond just the technical problems.

In the last several years, there have been many groups, events, forums, communities, and more dedicated to helping girls and women in tech grow, support each other, and shine. When we come together to lift each other up and mentor the young, teach each other new skills, and refresh our faith in our feminine power in a tech workspace dominated by men, we make it safe for those of us who love what we do to continue to thrive in a challenging atmosphere while we also pave the way for the next generation of women tech leaders.
Remember to be confident in your skills, and always keep learning! Women do make a positive difference – more than they are given credit for.

From “Being a Woman: Journey from Turkey to Israel”

As a woman who was born and grew up in Turkey, I have a completely different experience as a woman in Israel. It is not better or worse, it’s just completely different.

Turkey is a very conservative, male-dominated country. By default, women are discriminated against and underestimated. It is not expected that women will be powerful or successful; they are not given the opportunity. This is the mindset I grew up with.

For example, as a child in Turkey, I heard about girls in Anatolia that didn’t know how to read and write because girls didn’t need to know how to write and read?! (What? That seemed super weird to me.) Apparently, girls were supposed to stay at home and help their mothers until it was time for them to get married – with their family’s approval and permission, of course.

The bride even wore a red belt to symbolize her virginity! And young women were not allowed to live alone before getting married.
However, in Israel, a single woman can live as she pleases – alone or with roommates — even male roommates — and it’s okay. Nobody will look at you weird/differently. As a woman, I now take it for granted that I can go out late and come home safely without fear or being socially ostracized. Women even serve in the army. Not only is it okay to be independent as a woman, it is expected. It’s even okay to earn more than men. And men in Israel cook and help the women at home and with the children. There’s a sense of equality in Israel between men and women in many ways.

Again, there is no better or worse. It is simply different. Each society has its own rules and ethics and social norms. In some cases, I have been successful at adapting, and in others, I have not. I’ve taken what I’ve need and left what I have not.

From “Driving the Future through Personal Leadership & Example”

As a leader and manager, I am in a very visible role that challenges me every day. So in order for me to direct my team and get tasks accomplished, I have developed a personal management style. It is very important for me that people who I lead feel they are part of a team. Whether there is success or failure, it belongs to the team, to the collective “we.”

One way to show that I believe in the people I lead is to appreciate their work. I thank them and express to them that the value they bring is crucial to the success of our team.

Being professional and friendly should be balanced. I ensure my team knows I am available for them and ready to listen whenever they need. They should feel comfortable to talk to me, they should be free to be open with me because they know I will not judge them. I spend time
building open, trust-based relationships with them. But they also know there are boundaries in place.

By being fair with my team and giving them autonomy motivates them to be more dedicated. I show them that I care them today and think about their future. I guide them to find a path for growth and ask them to mentor others with their experience and knowledge.

I believe that each person has leadership skills, some more dominant, some less. Some choose to lead, some do not – and that’s okay. Regardless, each person is an example for someone else. I try to be an example of a leader by showing the “we” instead of the “I” every
day, because we are all in this together!

From “Networking: Doing it Right”

Every day, we meet many strangers, and in every conversation, we can easily build links. This can happen in a formal event as well. We just need to know how!

First, before you go to an event, do some quick research on what the event will look like and who the crowd will be. This will help you be prepared so you can start a conversation when you meet someone there.

Introduce yourself to someone, try to make a small talk, and then try to find a common interest.

Remember to let the other person talk. Be a good listener, make an eye contact, and be present. Be interested before being interesting.
In this way, you can start to build a natural relationship by connecting with this person – or even by connecting them with another relevant person.

Meeting is the first step to networking, and following up is the second step. Reach out through email or social media to remind them where you met and mention something you talked about.

Connect them with the relevant people or book or whatever your value offer was, and be sure to end the communication with showing your appreciation.

Remember, networking is an ongoing activity. Meeting at one event and exchanging business cards once is not enough to make attending the event worthwhile. Networking is a long-term, ongoing process that requires a bit of effort in order to ensure a relationship can be created
and maintained.

Don’t live your relationships in the virtual world only! Getting to know people face to face is so much more valuable.

About the Author
Rina Barbut, made aliyah from Turkey in 2008. In Israel, she’s been working in business and technology related positions at global companies and completed an International MBA. For years she led Jewish educational and social activities in Turkey and Europe. Rina is currently developing JConnect Forum, a network for young Jewish professionals from Israel and Europe to nurture business cooperation.
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