Young female computer programmer Young female computer programmer Powerful female computer engineers have valuable of advice for young women looking to launch their careers. (Photo: padu_foto / Shutterstock)

Female computer engineering superstars encourage women to join their ranks

Men still outnumber women three to one in the computer engineering industry, but the times are changing.

While men in the computer engineering industry currently outnumber women three to one, that number is slowly shifting as more colleges and universities turn out top-notch female graduates.

Earlier this year, Business Insider ranked 22 of the most powerful female computer engineers in the world. While their gender makes them a minority in their field, their experiences – and what they've learned from them – can be applied to virtually anyone in any industry who desires a successful career.

"I tried always to give my best without thinking too much about gender bias," Elena Zannoni, a director at Oracle and No. 16 on the list, told Business Insider in February. "One important thing is to not doubt oneself. There are plenty of other people that will undermine your confidence, no need for you to do it to yourself."

Tamar Bercovici, the Israel-born engineering manager for Box, a Los Altos, Calif., startup that provides secure, free online data storage, came in at No. 19. In a guest post titled "Don't wait to be invited" on the tech-industry website VentureBeat, Bercovici gave advice for other young women who wanted to become engineers and join the world's hottest tech startups.

"One of the main reasons I wanted to work at a startup was the idea of working somewhere dynamic where you end up doing anything and everything you're capable of," she wrote. "So if you hear about an interesting meeting, ask to join. Don't know what the cool projects are? Just talk to people. Ask what they’re working on. Take an interest."

Bercovici was one of three Israelis on what was a very multicultural list, which also highlighted Japanese, Indians, Chinese and many American women excelling in the field of computer engineering.

But the outsized contribution from Israel on the list led experts from its technology industry to reflect on the reasons behind Israeli women gaining ground in the male-dominated global computer industry.

"In Israel, there's no fear of failure," says Tova Kantrowitz, Associate Vice President of Communications and Public Relations for the American Technion Society, which raises funds for Technion, the "Israeli MIT," where Bercovici earned her PhD.

Kantrowitz, who studied chemical engineering and worked in the field for many years, told From The Grapevine that "For every successful startup, there are a bunch of failures. It doesn't stop entrepreneurs from trying to look for new solutions for world problems and challenges."

She points to a culture that "really values creative thinking" and "encourages questioning authority," but adds that female mentorship also plays an important role in the industry.

Tal RabinTal Rabin is head of the Cryptography Research Group at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center.

Tal Rabin, head of the Cryptography (aka writing and solving code) Research Group at the IBM T.J.Watson Research Center, in Yorktown Heights, New York, and Yoelle Ma'arek, the Haifa, Israel-based Vice President of Research for Yahoo and head of Yahoo Labs, are the two other Israeli women on the list. Both are very active in encouraging young women to join their ranks.

Ma'arek is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, while Rabin is a council member of the Computing Community Consortium and is on the membership committee of the Association of Women in Mathematics. Rabin also organizes the Women in Theory Workshop, a biennial event for graduate students in Theory of Computer Science.

At their last event, held at New York University in May, the group said its motivation for the workshop was twofold. "The first goal is to deliver an invigorating educational program; the second is to bring together theory women students from different departments and foster a sense of kinship and camaraderie."


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Female computer engineering superstars encourage women to join their ranks
Men still outnumber women three to one in the computer engineering industry, but the times are changing.