Empowering the Next Generation of Women in STEM
In the past few years, I’ve taken part in a very special Outbrain initiative – “Sodkot et tikrat hazchuchit” (“Cracking the Glass Ceiling”) – supporting female junior high school students from Orthodox communities, and exposing them to the tech world from a young age. I joined the program because I felt it was important for Outbrain to have that impact, and I wanted to use the opportunity to encourage these girls toward a future in technology. After one year as a mentor, I’ve taken full responsibility for the Sodkot initiative at Outbrain, and the satisfaction has been even greater.
To date, Outbrain has achieved near parity in terms of gender within the organization. In fact, Outbrain was recently named third on the list of public companies in Israel for diversity and inclusion.
We strive for complete equality across all departments, so we believe that inspiring young people to think big and overcome barriers is key to driving change. For this reason, the Sodkot initiative is very important. Participants are at that age where they face the important decision of which major to pursue in senior high school, directly impacting their higher education path.
During the program, we met 24 amazing young female students and paired them with 27 incredible mentors from different departments at Outbrain, such as R&D, HR, Product, and BI. Last year’s program included five meetings, four of which took place at our offices in Netanya, and one meeting outdoors. Each meeting involved several sessions, some technical, in which the mentors showed the girls what we actually do at Outbrain. Other sessions aimed to empower the girls to break the barriers they may have constructed in their minds about what they are capable of achieving.
One of the aspects that made the program so successful was the richness of the content during the sessions, from how math and algorithms function in our daily lives, to incredible women in history, and much more.
The formal meetings created meaningful relationships between the students and the mentors, which led to informal conversations that could impact the students’ decisions at future crossroads.
Thanks to the great bond that Outbrainers have built with the students, we’ll keep encouraging our team to lead volunteering projects they are passionate about and to preserve Outbrain’s DNA. To this end, the Sodkot program will continue this year with the same group of students, but a different focus. This time, we will be working together on an entrepreneurship project. Various facilitators from Outbrain will share their knowledge in project management, presentation skills, marketing, and more.
Our goal is to encourage the next generation of women not to be scared, but to choose the STEM route!
As Golda Meir said, “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” Glass ceilings are made to be broken, but there is still a lot to do. The Sodkot program is a story worth sharing, and we hope it will inspire the change we are all aiming for.