Inspiring Women in High-Tech

December 18, 2019
By: Jennifer Frey

“Do it!” That was the advice Professor Deborah Estrin, founder of the Health Tech Hub at the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, gave at a recent event on women in technology. “There’s so much you can do with a base in technology. So many opportunities, so many important things,” she said. “So much creativity.”

L-R: Cornell Tech Professor Deborah Estrin, Columbia University Professor Michal Lipson, and Marissa Shorenstein, president of Northern Region, AT&T

Cornell Tech Professor Deborah Estrin, who is also Associate Dean for Impact at Cornell Tech,  and Technion alumna Professor Michal Lipson of Columbia University, both MacArthur “genius grant” Fellows, participated in an empowering evening of discussion and networking titled: Wonder Women: The Technion Impact. The Dec. 9 event, co-hosted by Marissa Shorenstein, president of Northern Region, AT&T, and held at Xandr, AT&T’s advertising and analytics division, attracted a full crowd of some 85 American Technion Society donors, the new ATS leadership group “New York City Innovators,” Technion alumni, Touro College students, and newcomers to the ATS who were interested in the subject.

In the panel discussion moderated by Ms. Shorenstein, Prof. Estrin spoke of the changing perceptions of high tech. “Tech has shown its many sides,” she said, noting the questions that have arisen over privacy concerns, and digital responsibility. “But there’s still a tremendous amount of good to be done with technology. It’s an incredible field with so much flexibility, and you can use it to address whatever might interest you.”

As director of the Small Data Lab at Cornell Tech, Prof. Estrin has overseen the development of incredible health related technology such as a smartphone app that helps people manage pain from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, and lower back problems. She also holds the title Robert V. Tishman ’37 Professor and co-founded the non-profit startup, Open mHealth. Previously, she was a faculty member at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Prof. Lipson, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and Professor of Applied Physics at Columbia University, received all three degrees in physics at the Technion. Recognized as a pioneer in silicon photonics with more than 30 patents in the field, she spoke of the impact the Technion had on her career and the difficulties women face. “I’m not sure it’s easier for women (in science) today,” she said. “There’s an investment in the beginning. You need to be as good as you can. But it’s so worth it.”

The Technion has been on a mission to promote women. The overall percentage of female students hovers at about 39%. Nine new tenure-track women recently joined the Technion faculty, and the university has recently had five female faculty deans.

Special thanks to the evening’s host committee: Robyn Barsky, Shari Gersten, Susanna Goldstein, Shira Lewis, Randee Rubenstein, Julia Ruch, Sheryl Sarnak, Cindy Sipkin, Sigal Zarmi, and Frances Zelazny.

For more than a century, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology has pioneered in science and technology education and delivered world-changing impact. Proudly a global university, the Technion has long leveraged boundary-crossing collaborations to advance breakthrough research and technologies. Now with a presence in three countries, the Technion will prepare the next generation of global innovators. Technion people, ideas, and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world, innovating in fields from cancer research and sustainable energy to quantum computing and computer science to do good around the world.

The American Technion Society supports visionary education and world-changing impact through the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Based in New York City, we represent thousands of US donors, alumni, and stakeholders who invest in the Technion’s growth and innovation to advance critical research and technologies that serve the State of Israel and the global good. Over more than 75 years, our nationwide supporter network has funded new Technion scholarships, research, labs, and facilities that have helped deliver world-changing contributions and extend Technion education to campuses in three countries.