Often when I mention next to men something about gender gap, they dismiss it as if it were a non issue: "It's all in your mind, it depends on you alone."
Although I strongly believe each person is responsible for his own happiness, saying the gender gap doesn't exist is just ignoring reality. People that didn't experience gender-gap before, can never understand what it means.
In the past months, I started interviewing successful women entrepreneurs from the tech industry, asking them about the first memory they have that personally exposed them to this phenomena.
A tech entrepreneur I spoke with that develops software for small businesses, was sitting in a room with her male co-founder with one of their potential clients. She says: "The entire meeting, they were only talking to him, because they assumed I'm not a programmer. I wrote notes. In the end of the meeting my partner said that he didn't understand what they wanted, and we should give up on this deal. so I explained to him what they meant in the meeting. They ended up being our biggest client.
Another tech entrepreneur I interviewed started her career path in a prestige entrepreneurship academy which accepts the best 20 students from hundreds of applicants. Upon their selection, they form teams that build startup companies. "When I got accepted to the program, I had to choose the team I was going to join" She says: "We were only four women that got accepted. I approached another women that was already my friend, and offered myself as an addition to her team. I was completely shocked when she said: "No, I don't want to be with too many women in the group, It's not good." That was the first time she felt the gender gap can also be supported by women. "My first response was: what's the difference? why does it matter to which restroom I go?"
But apparently for many people it does matter. And from that day, she decided she was going to pay attention to empower women in the industry. A few years later she found herself in an accelerator in New York, which from 70 founders had only five women. She decided these five women are going to be best friends and support each other, and so she formed a group from them and they had a weekly lunch for women only in which they updated and empowered each other.
As for myself. The first time I noticed it was when I was a soldier in the army. I was serving in the intelligence unit in a role that has a similar environment to the high-tech industry. I entered a meeting with some partners I met for the first time. When I just entered, the commander sitting in the room stared at me, and told my direct commander: "You didn't mention that she's blond and pretty."
I was shocked and embarrassed. And I didn't speak all of the meeting.
It took me a few years to change my attitude. It was in my first start-up job. They recruited me to do sales part-time,which was not the position I wanted, nor the income I expected after my army experience. I decided that instead of blaming the gap, I'm going to kick a** and prove myself. I asked my boss to give me a week, and after four days of scheduling them meetings with all the VIP's people I could think of, he offered me a full-time position in the company. I ended up doing business development and closing their first pilot program with a corporate.
As women we mustn't cry and feel desperate from statistics, nor should we ignore it and say there is no gender gap. We should empower each other to dream high, take action, work hard and eventually achieve our dreams.
In the program we created as part of the #40forward Google initiative, that's exactly what we do.
"Elevation-W"-Powered by Google, and partnered with the Elevator Fund is a program that empowers women in some of these barriers, both professional and personal. Following a 3 day retreat in the Israeli desert in which selected women transform their idea into an action plan,they go through professional trainings backed with a mentoring process that supports them while they take action. In addition, they are exposed to a community of people who can become their partners, clients and investors.
We hope our program will inspire and empower women to take action upon their dreams, fulfill their potential and help each other in this path.
Check out program details here.