Feb 11, 2022
By Yisca Vargon, Senior Technical Project Manager at Synamedia
Today is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day where we recognize the important role of women and girls working within the industry as agents of change, rather than just beneficiaries. At Synamedia, we believe it’s important to shed a light on days like these, especially when considering that only one in five professionals in cutting edge technology fields, like artificial intelligence, is occupied by a woman according to the United Nations.
In 2000, when I was applying for my first job after having my daughter, it felt as though the odds were even more disadvantageous.
As I was looking for the right place to put my computer science degree and coding skills to good use, one of the companies I interviewed with told me that I would be the first woman on the developer team. I immediately told them, “No way, this is not for me.” At the time, I didn’t feel confident putting that amount of pressure on myself.
Today, I am a team leader for Synamedia’s headend watermarking team and have served as a scrum master for the company’s Infinite team for the past six years. I definitely feel that self-belief is the key to success for women in male dominated fields, such as coding and developing.
Synamedia helps foster environments that encourage such growth, including one of its CSR projects: Hilma – Tech for Impact’s program Carmel 6000. The program is a breeding ground for talented girls and women, and serves as an important step in growing their sense of self-confidence. I know this because I see it firsthand as a volunteer and as a mother.
What is Hilma – Tech for Impact and Carmel 6000?
Hilma – Tech for Impact, is a non-profit organization fully dedicated to helping the public. In Hebrew, Hilma stands for high tech for the good of society. One of its three branches – Carmel 6000 – is dedicated to teaching high tech to religious women in Israel in their late teens and early twenties.
Volunteers teach members to code and the girls apply their knowledge to developing projects designed to better society. The program aids in the development of technological solutions in areas of education, health, and welfare, with a focus on disadvantaged populations and people with various disabilities. These solutions help them and those close to them to improve their quality of day-to-day life.
My daughter joined Carmel 6000 early last year and has already been a part of groundbreaking projects, furthering her skills, experience, and confidence working within the Hi-tech industry.
One of the life-changing projects she has worked on includes developing a shuttle management system for children with special needs. The system provides information about passengers’ personal needs and sends real-time updates and alerts, benefiting not only the passengers, but also their parents and care takers. This way everyone involved is informed at every stage of the trip – from departure to arrival – ultimately making the trip safer.
Where Synamedia Comes In
I would admittedly go out of my way to visit my daughter at work to eye the amazing projects they were working on. While there, I would find myself surrounded by young curious women who asked me many questions about my career. I was more than happy to oblige them and offer my guidance.
One area in particular where a seasoned hand could offer help was guiding them through the agile methodology of project management. They were told they needed to work within agile framework, but they didn’t understand their role. And while they knew how to code, they didn’t know the basics of agile, making the manifesto difficult to follow.
Agile is a methodology for project management, including software development, that is built on an iterative approach. Instead of working towards one huge launch, Agile teams work in smaller, more manageable increments.
For example, it uses the concept of sprint planning which ensures that we know what we can achieve within a certain period and allows stakeholders to review results in a short amount of time, and make adjustments in a more organic and effective way.
With a handful of years as scrum master under my belt, I saw an opportunity where I could help these younger women while simultaneously making a positive impact on disadvantaged communities.
I started volunteering my time and worked with Carmel 6000’s scrum masters to teach them all of the agile methodologies.
I also taught them what they needed to know about being a scrum master and a leader, which ultimately improved their work greatly and allowed them to deliver value faster. After teaching one of Carmel 6000’s scrum masters about retrospective meetings – one of the concepts of agile methodology – she let me know that she and her team have become much more efficient and effective, reaping the benefits of the approach. With the right coaching and teamwork, I not only saw their work improve, but also noticed how their confidence grew exponentially.
I believe it’s important not only for my daughter, but also for these other young women in Hilma, to have a role model – someone like myself, who looks like them and shares similar experiences, and is able to balance family and work. These interactions and collaborations help to make chasing goals in a male-dominated space feel more achievable.
The work I have done in my years at Synamedia (and its precursor, NDS) have proven over and over again that saying no to the company where I would have been the first and only female developer was the right move.
Synamedia had already realized that women were a valuable and essential part of their teams by the time I joined. Not only has the company helped me to develop my self-belief immensely, but they are also providing a space for younger women to do the same by providing facilities, laptops and other equipment for Hilma – Tech for Impact.
I am proud to be a mother for my daughter, a volunteer for Carmel 6000, and a trusted team leader at Synamedia. And on today’s international day of celebrating women and girls in science, I reflect on these parts of my life that have given me so much, including the confidence to make an impact.
About the Author
Yisca Vargon is a Senior Technical Project Manager at Synamedia. Having previously served as a scrum master for the company’s Infinite team, Yisca now leads one of the teams in the headend watermarking group.
She holds a B.Sc. in computer science, from Bar Ilan University. In her spare time, Yisca enjoys reading and hiking through Israel’s many nature trails.