Alumni of 8200 unit win tender to boost women in R&D jobs

The Woman2Woman program set up by graduates of the Israeli army’s elite 8200 tech unit is now getting ready to train women for research and development positions in the nation’s booming tech industry.

The 8200 Alumni Association’s Woman2Woman program was set up six years ago with the aim of promoting women in the workforce. The program has won a tender issued by the Israel Innovation Authority, the national body in charge of setting out the nation’s tech policies and fostering the tech ecosystem, to run a project that would train women for development positions, such as software programming, financial technologies or biotechnology research, through the coming year, and help them integrate into the industry.

The project will be conducted in collaboration with leading tech companies, including Microsoft’s development center in Israel, Salesforce, Dell and General Motors.

Women tend to drop off the career ladder of tech R&D along the years, said Michal Krymolowski, managing director of Woman2Woman

. “It is very complex and there are many reasons for this,” she said in a phone interview with The Times of Israel, citing the industry, the employers and the women themselves. What is important is that everyone realizes there is a need to address this issue, she said.

Michal Krymolowski, right, managing director of the Woman2Woman program set up by alumni of the 8200 unit and Keren Herscovici, co-founder of the W2W program (Shlomi Yossef)

The aim of the program is to place more women on research and development teams, and to reabsorb those women who already dropped out. Research and development are typically the first stage in the development process of a product, and includes activities the companies do to introduce new products and services to the market.

The main target audience for the program is women with experience or education in technological professions who are not currently engaged in their field of specialization in high-tech and are interested in entering or returning to this field.

The program will host executives from high-tech companies who will talk about ways to integrate into development positions, as well as set up personal meetings with mentors, depending on the background and skills of each of the participants.

The program will also train women with interpersonal skills, hold workshops to prepare them for interviews, and create a support network for them, explained Krymolowski. It will run in two cohorts of 30 women each, and the participants will be connected to the Woman2Woman’s partner firms, she said.

Registration for the program is now open, and Woman2Woman will put out a call for entries in coming days.

The 8200 Alumni Association leads activities to promote technological entrepreneurship, promote minority populations and women in the technological worlds, and promote technological education in the periphery.

Woman2Woman also recently teamed up with the National Insurance Institute to help women who have been furloughed or lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic get back on the jobs track in a variety of fields, not just technology.

The program, called Getting Back, was financed by the NII and ran for one cohort of 31 women, 85%-90% of whom found a job, Krimolovsky said. Participants heard lectures and met with mentors to hone their interview skills and met with potential employers.

As part of its programs W2W also operates mentorships for young women facing their first professional “crossroads” to help them fulfill their goals while developing personal and professional skills.

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