TechWomen 2020

Live from Technion Israel: the 6th TechWomen event - featuring "X-Men", and the Israel Security Award

1,300 outstanding female high school students in science and mathematics attended the virtual event which showcased an array of opportunities flowing from academic studies in science and engineering at Technion.

Broadcasting live from Technion City in Israel

“I used to watch “X-Men”, and it amazed me to see how they can change people’s DNA to become superheroes. I knew that I wanted to be a scientist.” These remarks were made by entrepreneur Maya Ashkenazi Otmazgin, a graduate of the Technion Faculty of Biomedical Engineering to hundreds of female students who participated in the 6th TechWomen event. TechWomen events are designed to encourage outstanding high school students to pursue their studies in mathematics and science. This year, the event was held for the first time online, live from the new studio at the Technion, which enabled the participation of more students than ever before.

The event was held courtesy of the Rosalyn August Foundation for the Empowerment of Young Women. August, who lives in Florida, greeted the students from her home, telling them: “I have always felt that women could do whatever they want. I believe in you and your leadership to change the world. You have talent that many women long for, and you are an inspiration for me. You are the future of the world. I salute you, and I will continue to support this important event.” 

The event was moderated by astrophysicist Dr. Efrat Sabach, who completed her degrees at the Technion Faculty of Physics. Also taking part were Prof. Alon Wolf, Technion’s Vice President for External Relations and Resource Development, Yael Wiesel, a graduate of the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering and founder of “Zeekit” – a virtual dressing room; Dr. Naama Geva Zatorsky of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine; researcher Michal Ackerman-Lambert from the Faculty of Biology and stand-up comedian Mor Chen.

Seven alumni and doctoral students took part in a video specially made for the event, entitled: “May I ask a question?” These included: Dr. Avital Schrift, director of a missile plant in the Israel Aerospace Industries Systems Missile and Space Division, and an Israel Defense Forces Award laureate for 2003, who completed her bachelor’s and master’s degree in the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering; Maya Ahskenazi Otmazgin, one of the founders of food companies MaoLac and MaoFoodTech, who completed her master’s degree in biomedical engineering and was selected this year for the Forbes 30 Under 30 list; Nora Nseir Manassa, co-founder and CTO at Nurami Medical, who completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering; Katia Zoubenko, who holds a bachelor’s degree from the Physics Faculty and a master’s degree from the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, where she is currently pursuing her doctorate; Yathreb Asaad, a PhD student from the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion; Neta Blum, head of the Aviation Technology Division at MAPAT (Ministry of Defense), who completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and is currently pursuing her doctorate in the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering (she is also a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list); and Keren Yitzhak, who completed her bachelor’s degree from the Taub Faculty of Computer Science this year and today works at Google. 

“In the army, I was exposed to computers and suddenly it interested me,” said Keren Yitzhak. “I began to understand the electronic devices we have in our hands and the things that we use on a daily basis at a whole new depth.”

The interviewees talked about their character as high school students (“nerdy, curious, outstanding”), about moments of crisis (“there were times I said enough, this doesn’t suit me!”), and about life as women in the industry.  “When you are the lone women in the room where there are only men beside you,” said doctoral student Neta Blum, “the situation puts you at the forefront and makes you stand out – what’s more, I’m a redhead.”

In the feedback sent to the event organizers, the participants wrote that the event focused on study options at the Technion and strengthened their confidence in the viability of studies and their ability to meet the challenge. “I also previously considered studying at the Technion, but I told myself that I was not good enough,” wrote one participant. “After today’s lectures I realized that everyone feels like me.” “I wanted to study at the Technion before too,” wrote another, “This lecture just strengthened my desire. I had butterflies in my stomach.”

Technion’s Vice President for External Relations and Resource Development Prof. Alon Wolf told the students that: “Technion has been working hard to raise the percentage of women among graduate students and faculty members. Only recently, two new and excellent faculty members, who were doctoral students in my laboratory, joined the Technion, and I am very proud of them for the impressive path they have taken. Each and every one of you has a place at the Technion and I hope to see you on campus in a few years.”