IDF (Zahal) women stand out as a source of inspiration for career women anywhere. From pilots to commanders to engineers, women in the IDF (Zahal) are taking on leadership roles in a variety of fields.
This month, the Women’s Affairs Advisor to the IDF (Zahal) Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Racheli Tevet-Wiesel, spoke in the annual conference of NATO’s Committee on Gender Perspectives in Brussels, Belgium. She shared personal, live examples of how the IDF (Zahal) empowers women and offered tips on how militaries around the world can do the same.
Whether you are in business, tech, marketing or still searching for your path—the tips below could help you grow professionally.
Brig. Gen. Tevet-Wiesel, (second from the right) in the annual NATO conference.
Forget the ceiling. Brig. Gen. Tevet-Wiesel is currently spearheading an innovative high school program for girls to prepare them to enter largely male-dominated STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math] fields in the IDF (Zahal). Dare to go into fields with fewer women. Don’t even toy with the idea that you face some sort of ‘glass ceiling’ because you’re a woman.
A soldier controlling an unmanned vehicle.
Search for solutions. Women should identify gaps that no else has even thought of, take initiative and start designing the solutions. Brig. Gen. Tevet-Wiesel herself noticed that a large percent of women were dropping out of combat training regimens, so she changed enlistment policy for women. The army now enlists women to their units a few weeks earlier than their male counterparts to receive fine-tuned physical and mental preparation for their combat roles.
Female combat soldiers in the Field Intelligence Corps.
Never pity yourself. Don’t psyche yourself out. Never pity yourself, no matter how difficult it may be for you. Follow other women like the religious female pilot who graduated from the elite Pilot’s Course this summer. She didn’t dwell on how hard it was, but rather charged forward and made her dream a reality.
Last year, these five women completed the IAF training program and became pilots.
Be gritty. The women who succeed are those who can bounce back immediately. You may fail, but always expect to get right back up. This thinking inspired an IDF (Zahal) program designed for female officers in the rank of major, where they learn how to navigate through a male-dominated military and advance up the ranks. The next female major general may end up being a graduate of this program.
Peering at a newborn in the IDF (Zahal) field hospital in Nepal.
Strive to achieve family-career balance. Brig. Gen. Tevet-Wiesel advises women to set their minds on reaching their full professional potential while still maintaining their aspiration to have a family. The story of Lt. Col. Oshrat Bachar, who was named the IDF (Zahal)’s first female battalion commander last year, proves that this is possible; Lt. Col. Bachar serves in the Combat Intelligence Corps, and has a young daughter. “A more gender-diverse army does not only benefit women – it is beneficial for the IDF (Zahal) as a whole and for the State of Israel,” says Brig. Gen Tevet-Wiesel.
Oshrat with her daughter.