IDF project offers hi-tech training to girls

Project Hadarim involves extracurricular activities aimed at preparing the students for upcoming military service.

Soldiers 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Soldiers 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Seeking both to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge as well as contribute to the country’s hi tech- oriented economy, the Israel Defense Forces’ Telecommunications Division has recently begun recruiting girls in the 11th grade for Project Hadarim, Hebrew for “citrus.”
The Telecommunications’ Division, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of its founding on Sunday, is working together with both the Microsoft Corporation and the Education Ministry on the computer training program.
Established four years ago, Project Hadarim involves a series of extracurricular activities aimed at preparing the students for their upcoming military service and totals 150 hours of academic courses aimed at “exposing the girls to the world of information technology and software, thus increasing their chances of joining the Telecommunications Division and developing the female presence in this sector.”
The afternoon classes, which are being held in cities such as Be’er Tuviya, Ramat Gan and Petah Tikva, are based on materials being provided by the American computing corporation.
According to Maj. Nava Rimberg, who heads the program, the first graduates are now beginning to see the end of their military service. While she could not provide exact figures, Rimberg stated that many participants in Project Hadarim were planning on extending their terms of service or signing up for officer training school.
There are currently 150 girls in the program, she stated.
The girls “learn the fundamentals of technology,” Rimberg said, explaining that some young women do not have the opportunity to study technology on a high level and that she believes this program can give its participants the ability to get involved in something that can sometimes be daunting to them.
She added that the program can also provide opportunities that may be more open to their male counterparts.
Pending completion of their extracurricular studies and their admittance to IDF training courses following basic training, the women of Project Hadarim “can enter all the computer professions in the IDF.”
Michal Katz, an IDF commander and computer instructor, was a member of the first group of high school students to be recruited for the project.
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post, Katz stated that she was recruited when an IDF representative came to her school seeking young women interested in learning about computers.
“They came to my school and spoke about this program and then picked girls,” she said.
In an email on Thursday, the IDF told the Post that the program was organized for girls that have not had the opportunity to “learn technology at school” and that, by providing lessons that “increase the chances” that these future soldiers will serve in computer- related fields, participants will be more likely to obtain work in the software sector after their enlistment expires.
The Telecommunications Division, the IDF said, is “not only an army division, but a pioneer in the national technology” sector.
The army’s computer units have served as something of an incubator for many of the ideas that have sprouted into successful start-ups in Tel Aviv’s so called “Silicon Wadi.”