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Why is it important to be the first female member of R&D?

Jul 13, 2022

Jul 13, 2022

3 min

It’s never easy to be a trailblazer, especially as a female junior Data Engineer in the male-led cybersecurity ecosystem. A year later, I can now say that this was a fantastic decision!

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Link to Linkedin
Link to Linkedin
Orel Cohen
Data Engineer
Why is it important to be the first female member of R&D?
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It’s never easy to be a trailblazer, especially as a female junior Data Engineer in the male-led cybersecurity ecosystem. When Grip Security was born over a year ago, I met the company’s three founders, who offered me a position in the fledgling and promising startup. Grip had all of the ingredients for a perfect entrance into the industry: a promising product I was excited to build and play around with, a location in central Tel Aviv - nothing to complain about, and friendly founders. I saw the other company employees in passing, and besides being smart and welcoming, they all had one other thing in common - they were all men. 

At the time, I was used to working with women and somewhat intimidated by being the only woman in the startup, and a junior employee at that. How would I avoid developing imposter syndrome? Would they accept me as one of their own? 

A lover of challenges, I quickly reminded myself that as the Community Manager at QueenB, an Israeli non-profit organization in which we help young women grow into coding and tech powerhouses, mentoring them throughout their professional processes, I wouldn’t be practicing what I preach if I didn’t go for it. Yes, being the first was daunting, but I knew that I had to jump at the opportunity to open this door for the next woman, and the woman after her. 

A year later, I can now say that this was a fantastic decision!

As a startup in its first year, Grip Security was still building its team and its values when I joined. Having women on the team is a crucial part of the culture-building process, but in order to do that, one woman always has to be the pioneer and break the mold; this time - it was me. As the first female developer, you will most likely be one of the first employees in the startup overall, which is an unmatched personal and professional adventure! You can directly influence the development of the technology and product, you have ample room for creativity and value, and an opportunity to become a true asset in both experience and knowledge. 

As one of the first employees at a startup, you get to familiarize yourself with the company founders and the product from its inception, and you are able to develop and grow with the startup on a faster trajectory than if you were one of many in a larger enterprise. Young startups in their early stages put an emphasis on recruiting high-quality human capital in order to have a strong start with a small but powerful team of professionals. Being part of such a tight-knit group allows you to learn from the best and brightest. At once challenging and exciting, such an opportunity doesn’t present itself often!

Looking back on my first year at Grip, it wasn’t always easy. Being a junior employee has its drawbacks, but it was the best and fastest learning curve I’ve ever experienced. A fast-growing startup drives you to be your best, learn something new every day and excel - and if you do so while coming in with a smile every morning - there’s nothing better. 

The experience of the past year is what made me found the First Lady Club. I know there are a lot of considerations in choosing a workplace, but I'm sure taking that step will pay off! So, will you join me in the club?

If you’ve had a similar experience being the first woman in your company, share your story below! Message me for questions and guidance (both women and men, of course :)).

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