1,000 outstanding female high school students from all over Israel participated in TechWomen2021, an event to encourage them to continue, and invest in, their studies in math and science. The event, now in its seventh year, took place online and was broadcast from the Technion’s studio to dozens of classrooms across the country.
TechWomen events are held thanks to the generous support of the Rosalyn August Girls Empowerment Mission (GEM). As a girl, August wanted to run the family business, but her father told her that business was not suitable for women. Despite this, she went on to study business and turned the family business into an empire.
“I want you to know that you can do whatever it is you decide you want to do. I believe in you,” she told the students virtually from her home in Florida. “That’s why I put my money up to sponsor a program to bring you to the Technion … and to go on into this world and do the amazing things that are being done at the Technion … the Technion is special. I believe in you. I’ve got your back … you will probably fall in love with the Technion just like I have.”
Professor Ayelet Fishman, Dean of Students at the Technion, also addressed the students telling them, “I came to the Technion to take a combination of chemistry, biology, and engineering — a combination that I found in the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering. After my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I went into industry, but I realized I would need a Ph.D. to progress — and I’ve been here ever since. I’m researching a variety of topics such as plant protein substitutes, cultured meat, biofuel production, and the development of a new Alzheimer’s drug. Today, 44% of the students at the Technion are female, and by the time you join us, we will be approaching 50%.”
A Great Place to Start
August and Prof. Fishman’s words were echoed throughout the day, as Technion faculty and TechWomen alumni shared their reasons for pursuing careers in science and mathematics, and how an education at the Technion catapulted them to the top of their fields.
“Studying at the Technion gives us the basis that allows us to do whatever we want. So even if you are not sure what you will do when you are older, the Technion is a great place to start,” said Dr. Efrat Sabach, an astrophysicist who completed three degrees in the Technion Faculty of Physics. Dr. Sabach was the host of the day’s events.
Assistant Professor Oksana Stalnov, a member of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, introduced the students to her unique lab. She told them about her research career in a field called aeroacoustics — the formation of sound waves as a result of interaction of flows with dynamic structures. After many years of study, as well as time spent as a research fellow at the University of Southampton, she decided to return to Israel, “and here I fulfilled a dream — I built the first quiet wind tunnel in Israel.”
Dr. Adi Hanuka, who has three degrees from the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, told the audience about her time at the Technion and afterwards. “What’s beautiful about science is that when you start research you know where you’re aiming for, but you have no idea what you’re going to find out along the way. What’s certain is that the Technion gave me an excellent toolbox that accompanied me throughout my post-doctoral fellowship and is still relevant today to the start-up I work for in California.”
The TechWomen events have already led many high school students to choose the Technion. One such student is Noor Jumaa, originally from Taybeh, who came to TechWomen 2018 three years ago on the recommendation of her math teacher and returned a year later to TechWomen 2019. “The second time I had good SAT scores and thought I was going to study electrical engineering, but two weeks before I enrolled, I changed my mind and chose the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering. Why? Because I also studied chemistry in high school and wanted a course that combined chemistry, physics, and math. Now, at the age of 21, I’m already in my second year, convinced that I made the right choice and in love with this profession. It’s hard at the Technion, but the difficulty is part of the beauty.”