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Faith, Family, and Career: How Shira Elnekave Makes it All Work

Meet Shira Elnekave, an automation development specialist at Nova, a new mom – and an orthodox Jew. We sat down for a chat about her experience and insights, and how she believes more Orthodox women can find their place in today’s high-tech work environments.

Hi, Shira. Let’s start by sharing a little bit about yourself.

I’m 23 years old, married, and have a toddler son named Uriel. I’ve been working in high-tech for three years now.

I studied program engineering for two years in a seminar called “Elisheva Girls” in Jerusalem.

In my previous position, I worked as a developer. Here at Nova, I transferred to automation development, and I’ve been here since December 2021. I am an Orthodox Jew and live in a warm community of like-minded people in Rehovot.

So, what are the differences between development and automation development?

Standard development involves coding the products sold by the company. However, automation development concentrates on developing the tools or assisting programs that support the product development process.
Those tools help the developer check the code’s correctness and ensure the product is functional in all its developed versions.
We, the automation developers, are running a massive number of tests, allowing us to test our product every day, according to the updated version.

What made you decide to work at Nova?

Before coming to Nova, I worked in Tel Aviv at a company that creates personalized projects for its clients. Despite the interest and the challenge, I wanted to join a more global and stable company that would encourage personal growth. During my first interview with Nova, I was pleasantly surprised to hear, “In two years, if you’d like to change your position or evolve into a new place or study a different technology, we love that, and we are open to it.” That was one of the things that drew me in. The opportunity for personal and professional development, and of course, the fact that it is a large stable company, gave me a feeling of safety. I live in Rehovot, and Nova is also very close to home for me, especially considering that there aren’t many opportunities south of Tel Aviv.

As an Orthodox religious woman, what were the things that supported your integration process?

First of all, my colleagues’ respectful behavior was helpful. In my opinion, this comes from the top down, beginning with the management. Everyone here is encouraged to show ultimate respect and support each other’s personal and professional self-actualization.
From an aesthetic point of view, the offices are gorgeous, which has been a huge benefit for me. It’s fun to work in a beautiful environment.
And there is also my personal point of view, as an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman: this was part of the discussion from the start, already in the first interview. They asked me to state my needs and requirements and adjusted themselves accordingly. This was astonishing and exceeded the standards of any other company I worked for. My team manager always suggests arranging one-on-one meetings with an open door, and everyone shows respect, sensitivity, and consideration of my values and religious needs.

In my opinion, everything is well-balanced here. My values and religion take priority, and Nova ultimately respects this and supports me. I asked to be seated in a certain location, and they approved it. In addition, as a new mother, I asked to leave an hour earlier every day, and it was also approved. I feel respected and appreciated, so it is very satisfying.

How is your unique background expressed in the professional aspect?

In the professional aspect, I believe I’m not different in any way from anyone. I am doing my best to be professional, just like any other team member. Thanks to the sensitivity and care for my needs, I give 100% of myself at work with the maximum professionalism, dignity, and respect to the place that treats me in such a way.

If you’d advise your friends, colleagues, or other people to join the Nova team, what would you tell them? 

First of all, I’d tell them I work here, so that’s an excellent reason for them to join (laughing). Jokes aside, I’d say to them that working at Nova gives you a sense of joy and positivity at work–which is essential, as we all know. And despite the stress and deadlines, the employee always comes first–their needs are the first priority. In my perspective, this is a distinguishing value and has led to my acceptance in the workplace.
In addition, I’d tell them about the remarkable technologies and the high level of business and tech expertise. 

What are the challenges that Orthodox women are dealing with in a technological work environment? And how is it possible to deal with such challenges?

The Orthodox woman is very modest and needs to be able to set her limits when sharing a workspace with men. Communication with men at work should be mostly business related, respectful, and clear of personal talk. An Orthodox woman wouldn’t sit in a closed room with men, but here at Nova, everything is open space, so this matter isn’t an issue.
In Orthodox houses with multiple kids, there needs to be a flexible work schedule. This, too, is addressed here because at Nova, the work is hybrid and allows flexibility in the working hours, too.

In the community you’re coming from, are there some cases where you feel judged about the fact that you’re an Orthodox woman who works in the technology industry?

In my own community, as well as among the general population, the fact that I am a working Orthodox woman is completely natural. It has been quite a common phenomenon for young Orthodox girls and women to study technology and integrate in the biggest technology companies. I have friends who work at Google, Microsoft, and more. Even though in the past it was considered deviant, nowadays, it is natural and acceptable.

What do you think is the key to this massive successful integration of Orthodox women in technology work environments?

I think that what makes it possible is the will and need of Orthodox women for professional development and self-realization, along with being able to contribute financially. Also, a certain open-mindedness has been developed both within religious institutions and high-tech companies themselves. It creates opportunities to integrate different communities that were not previously included in high-tech companies.

Amazing! How do you see the future of Orthodox women in the technology market and other markets?

I believe that the future is already here. All my female colleagues from my studies are working in great companies these days, and this phenomenon is only widening and evolving. My assessment is that this will continue to trend in that same direction, and Orthodox women will be promoted to senior and key positions. They have all the qualifications and skills for that to happen.

Last question, if you’ll allow it: Would you wish for your children to also follow your same path?

Certainly. I will encourage them to do so, to take their talents and desires and invest in them. I won’t promote high-tech if it doesn’t interest them, but I’ll absolutely encourage them to pursue the professional paths they’re passionate about. However, I would be pleased if they chose high-tech because it is my domain and I love it very much.

Nova Team
Nova Team

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