How do you improve female representation in the hi-tech industry?

A one-on-one interview with high-tech veteran Tami Mazel Shachar on the metaverse and how to improve female representation in the industry

 Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta is seen on smartpone in front of displayed logo of Facebook, Messenger, Intagram, Whatsapp and Oculus in this illustration picture taken October 28, 2021 (photo credit: DADO RUVIC/REUTERS ILLUSTRATION)
Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta is seen on smartpone in front of displayed logo of Facebook, Messenger, Intagram, Whatsapp and Oculus in this illustration picture taken October 28, 2021

Tami Mazel Shachar is the CEO of Incredibuild, a development tool that distributes processes across idle processors in the network on-prem and dynamically allocates cloud capacity based on availability and cost. She has previously worked in the Knesset, as well as for 3M and NSO Group, in a sprawling career trajectory that is more than 20 years in the making. Last year, Incredibuild received an investment of $140 million from ScaleUp investor Insight Partners; they hired more than 100 employees in 2021.

As you look at the modern tech industry, how do you view its progress in terms of integrating women into executive roles?

“In terms of data, we’re from where we should be: in terms of female CEOs, the number is really marginal. If I look at the portfolio for all of the great VC funds that have great companies, at the end of the day women CEOs are a very small number - but they’re there, and it’s a growing number.”

What would you say is the primary barrier in increasing that number?

“One of the primary barriers is [role] modeling. When you grow up and you’re in school and you look at the moms and everybody around you, you don’t see a lot of women in very high positions; and you can’t be what you can’t see. As women in high positions, we have a responsibility to go and to be in places where that modeling isn’t present: to go to schools and to villages, and kind of give that visibility, and say “this is an opportunity, and this exists.”

 Tami Mazel Shachar  (credit: HAIM BARGIG) Tami Mazel Shachar (credit: HAIM BARGIG)

Besides positive modeling, is there anything else to focus on?

“Another important aspect is education around middle school: giving a lot more ability to expose people to tech options. It’s a question of taking away the stigma for gendered positions. When I look at Incredibuild, 60% of our executive management is women, 50% of our managers are women, which is highly unusual in the tech industry. I don’t think that there were any choices made that specifically favored women. I chose them simply because they were the best; and I think the more you have women in managerial positions, the ripple effect will kind of happen naturally.”

Moving forward to the latest big trend in the high tech industry: the metaverse. What’s your take on the idea and its eventual implementation?

“I think it’s interesting how big companies can create trends and influence by just throwing a bomb: Facebook came and said “Metaverse” and suddenly metaverse is everywhere.

“When you look at the metaverse and what it's supposed to be, you think about gaming, right? Gaming, which is booming around the world right now (it’s a 160 billion dollar industry with more than 2.7 billion players around the world), is actually the fuel for pretty much all of the technology; the metaverse is like adding another layer to gaming. AR/VR has been stuck for many years: Oculus (no offense to Facebook) is a failure. But the moment that Meta came into play, suddenly there’s buzz around all the technology that’s going to be able to support that.”

Why is it that the industry is suddenly so interested? Was Facebook’s interest enough to kickstart the industry’s interest? Why is mainstream adoption more likely now than it was when things like Second Life or World of Warcraft first appeared?

“I think that the technologies were not yet mature enough. The Oculus is cumbersome, it doesn’t give you a great experience. It’s not fun enough - it needs to be seamless, like playing on a video game console. Gamers have very high standards, and the games industry is pushing the industry; but the technology is not ready for the metaverse yet. The word has been thrown around, but the road is long, and it’s going to take time.

“Now, the industry has said “This is where we’re heading, and let’s gear up.” It’s like 10 years ago, where everyone said “Oh, we’re Cloud, we’re Cloud” and had nothing, but they started gearing to that and gaining maturity slowly. I think the key to making it a part of our daily life is making it something that you enjoy doing; that isn’t too cumbersome or something that doesn’t give the expected experience. The gaming engines and technology are going to lead that effort, and as consumers, and in all other industries, we’re enjoying huge investments into gaming, as it ripples into other technologies.”