The Israeli high-tech ‘manpower crisis’ has emphasized the need to increase the representation of certain populations in the high-tech world – such as women– especially for technological professions, as it is estimated that only about a quarter of all technical jobs are held by women.

One of the companies trying to change this reality is Apple, whose Israeli development center is now launching a new program, with the aim of encouraging more women to join the Israeli high-tech scene. Among other initiatives, the program will do this by exposing the participants in the program to Israeli female engineers, who are responsible for some of the company's important developments such as the iPhone and the new M1 processors (which are currently in the process of being developed in Israel).

Apple's new program is available to girls ages 10-18. About 1,000 girls from around the country will meet with female engineers who work at Apple in Israel, for a series of in-person and online lectures. Among other things, the participants in the program will meet engineers in the fields of Physical Design, Design Integration and Verification, Platform Engineering, Depth Sensing, Software Engineering and more - all of whom worked on depth cameras, which are used as the Face ID mechanism in the latest iPhones and iPads.

Credit: Apple

Other engineers who will participate in the program have worked on some of Apple's most important developments in recent years, such as their M1 processors. Remember, these processors have managed to shake up the laptop and desktop market, mainly because they have broken a paradigm by proving that impressive performance can be achieved with ARM-based processors, and not just x86-based ones.

In addition, engineers responsible for designing communication components such as the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi embedded in the Apple Watch and the LiDAR sensors for iPhones and iPads will also participate in the program. The aforementioned developments all came from Apple's research and development center in Israel, which operates from 2 sites - Herzliya and Haifa - and currently employs about 1,800 employees.

Apple's M1 processors. Credit: Apple

As part of the program, the engineers will tell their personal stories, about what led them to choose the technological path and a career in high-tech; they will share tips on how to achieve a career in technology and share what it's like to be an Apple employee in Israel. In addition, the participants will also visit Apple's centers in Herzliya and Haifa and will be able to watch some of the work processes and participate in panels and discussions with the engineers. The meetings are held in collaboration with schools, associations, and organizations like 'Cracking the Glass Ceiling', ‘Siraj’ and more.

Ideology and the plight of high-quality personnel

It is well known that Israel became Apple's first research and development center outside the United States in 2015, following their acquisition of Israeli startups Anobit and Primesense. Since then, the Israeli center has grown, and at the same time has taken a more central place in the company's road map. At the end of last year, it was reported that Apple Israel plans to expand the center in Herzliya and build a 30-story tower, thereby increasing ​​its R&D center to 90,000 square meters (double that of Microsoft's new development center in Herzliya).

Apple will have to recruit a lot of local talent, which is not an easy task, even for a "sexy" company like Apple since there are a ton of other prominent companies competing for the talent Microsoft (with its expansion of 5 new centers), Intel (which is building a mega-campus in Haifa) and Google (which has established a new chip development center). All these technology giants are about to fight for a very limited supply of Israeli engineers in the fields of hardware and software and are trying to be most appealing to prospective workers– be it by having international flexibility and accommodation, or by pampering workers with luxurious conditions. Moreover, since the last two years have seen dozens of new unicorns emerging in the Israeli startup ecosystem, for the first time ever there are other companies competing with these multinational corporations, which is not expected to make the fight for the local talent any easier.

A previous survey by the Women in High-Tech Association found that 60% of high-tech women claim that the main reason for the minority of women in technological professions is that from a young age, girls are conditioned to not choose high-tech professions. Moreover, nearly three-quarters of women responded that the most important action that can be done to increase the number of women in high-tech is to expose them at younger ages, especially in high school, to high-tech work and the ecosystem. This is the main goal Apple hopes to achieve in this new program.