Yesterday evening a group of some 70 senior female high-tech executives and entrepreneurs gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to be photographed with a cardboard cutout figure of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The photograph, which was sent to her office in Berlin, was a protest to a meeting earlier in the week when Merkel was in Israel with leading figures from Israeli and German high-tech.
Merkel was the only woman present and in an embarrassing diplomatic incident she said, "I'm happy about this discussion and I'm happy about this joint meeting and if there will also be a woman here next time that would be nice. This is probably a field controlled by men but of course I'm happy you're all here, this is not a criticism."
Some men also attended last night's protest rally including Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. Among the women there were Facebook Israel general manager Adi Soffer Teeni and former Chief Scientist and EMC VP Dr. Orna Berry.
Dr. Berry said, "When I saw the picture, I thought that men have stayed in their comfort zone and it's a shame. They're not changing with the times and not trying to think in an inclusive way."
She added, "This issue is not only important for me but also for Israel. If we want productivity and equality and a democratic society, then this is part of it. I'm more interested in the fact that less women are learning computer science than any specific event but we have to raise awareness that inclusiveness requires investment and that this inclusiveness is worthwhile for all of us.
The event with Merkel was organized by the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel Innovation Authority and Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute as well as German government and trade organizations. Many of the representatives at the meeting were German and Israel had no say in the selection there, but there was embarrassment that some of the many leading women in Israeli high-tech had not been invited.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 11, 2018
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