How Women in Tech Can Crossover the Gender Gap: Tech Talk With’s CTO


Leah Kolben, chief technology officer and co-founder at, joins Neha Pradhan for a little serious and light-hearted conversation on this special episode for the state of women in tech. They discuss why the gender gap in technology exists and how more women can cross the gender gap to continue their careers in data science and AI. Leah and Neha talk about promoting pay equity in the tech industry, championing gender-responsive tech, overcoming imposter syndrome in a male-dominated industry, and more.

Here are the edited excerpts from our interview with Leah Kolben:

Hello, and welcome to the ninth episode of Tech Talk brought to you by Toolbox. I am your host Neha Pradhan, and I am here today with our special guest Leah Kolben, CTO and Co-founder of Leah developed her passion for technology at a very young age. Leah led the startup called Appoint, as the CTO and has followed her career in consulting enterprises on AI and machine learning. After 3 years of consulting, Leah decided to create a tool to help data scientists and companies scale their AI and machine learning with

On today’s special episode about women in tech, Leah and I will discuss why the gender gap in technology exists and how more women can cross the gender gap to continue their careers in data science and AI.

Leah, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you for joining me on Tech Talk.

That’s a great question. In my opinion, I feel like it has both, reasoning, and women’s opinion. I also feel like we don’t have a lot of women to be a role model for other women as manager or leaders and so on. I feel like a lot of women feel like they don’t have the necessary skills, or they have insecurities. While we see men, and they are so secured, so sure of themselves. And I feel like maybe this insecurity, makes women less connected. So, this what I see when I talk with other women leaders.

I think, if women wouldn’t be so stressed about taking new responsibilities, they would be surer of themselves like they deserved everything, the same way that men deserve. We don’t need to ask, are you qualified as a woman? We need to ask, are you qualified as a manager? So, I feel like this is something that we need to work on as women and as a community. Men can help women not feel that insecurity and give them more space to handle these kinds of responsibilities.

  • 4:23Opens a new window – Can you tell us how the tech industry can do a better job to promote pay equity in the workplace?

I think one of the reasons could be that women start from a lower income. So, every time they go to a job interview, they carry on their history of low income. And then you always start like in a balance. So, if we can say, okay, you asked for less, but we feel like we need to pay you equal. And this is important because out of time, we meet students that come from no job experience and then we offer them less because they don’t have a lot of experience. So, in the next job, they need to compromise on their salary.

I feel like this is something we can fix by fixing the salary income. If you have a gap from previous workplaces, the next workplace you seek can help women to be more equal. I feel like when women are asked, how much do you want? Or what’s your salary expectation? Maybe we need to take this question off the interview process. So, we will know that if we want to pay something, we will pay it no matter if you’re a man or a woman.

  • 7:04Opens a new window – Can technologies such as AI and NLP help tech companies to overcome this gender bias in hiring or introduce new challenges?

I feel like it depends on who writes the algorithm. Is it a woman or a man? This is because, I think we don’t have a lot of data on women in a manager position. And then if we don’t have a lot of CVs to put in the algorithm that women are qualified for, the algorithm would be biased. So, we need more data of qualified women or the same amount of data that men are qualified, and women are qualified to train those kinds of algorithms to be non-biased.

I’m not sure that AI is there yet in terms of helping to overcome this gap. But obviously, if it’s a woman who would write this algorithm, she would think about how many kids do you have or what was the gap between the last two kids. So, we can calculate when you’re going to be pregnant again.

I think like we shouldn’t run to use them necessarily because they obviously would lead to bias. And not only for women, I guess for people that have challenges, people that are coming from a community that are not like other communities that you have in the current workplace, and so on.

It’s not only about women, but obviously, it can hurt women as well.

  • 9:24Opens a new window – What factors the tech industry could be overlooking while offering a promotion to women leaders?

In my perspective, we shouldn’t look at how to promote women. Maybe, we should look at who is a perfect candidate to promote. If we will look at new fathers and say, okay, if you have a new child, you will get the same amount of opportunity as a mother, then you don’t have the factor of being a mom.

When you look at the same people in the same way, you get the same amount of time off to be with your family. We wouldn’t have different factors for women and different factors for men, because we will make men more equal to women, not the other way.

  • 11:55Opens a new window – How can app developers cater to a more diverse demographic and design gender-responsive tech?

I think you touched a great point and it’s not only in the app developer community, but there are medicines that are more appropriate to men. If we need to fix everything, I don’t know if we will be able to do that right now, but we need to start somewhere. And I feel, if we put more women in data, we have an equal number of women and men to create algorithms. If you would have more women developers, maybe when they develop the app and they will see that if your text is promoting this app only for me, then they would say that hey, this is not right.

I feel like today women can put up their opinion in the workplace. They are not afraid to say their mind. They are not afraid to act on it and ask why are you doing that? Why are we not promoting more women and so on? I feel like if more women participated in writing the apps, we would have ways for us to be equal. And that’s something that I feel can help.

  • 14:22Opens a new window – Will championing gender responsive policies in the technology sector aid the cause of gender equality?

I think it’s a little bit of both. In terms of the government, I think if the government will offer more equal benefits to women and men, more women would be able to go to the workforce after their maternity leave. If men would have to take paternity leave the same way that women need to take maternity leave, this issue won’t be on the table. Also, when a woman has a miscarriage, not only woman need to stay home, but the men can also stay with her. We can give like a week off and both can stay at home. Like I said earlier, make men more equal to women in term of the benefits. Obviously, it’s not something that one workplace can do it needs to come from the government.

We also talked about insecurities with women. When girls are growing up, we need to strengthen their spirit, talk about it, and be more vocal. Obviously, the government can also offer more benefits for girls to go and study STEM, even in high school. Open-minded program for girls at the age of 15 or 18, can be a huge promotion for woman to study STEM afterwards.

  • 18:12Opens a new window – What advice do you have for women in data science and AI to succeed in a male-oriented industry?

I think the women limit themselves unconsciously. If they have the security, they will have the ability to go forward and have the courage to ask for better salaries or to ask for jobs that other people around them would ask more naturally.

Also, I think everybody has an imposter syndrome. I feel like even the managers sometimes have days where they feel like they’re the imposter. So, it’s not only for women to feel that way. What’s important is to think, does it make you struggle and say, today I feel like I’m not worthy of that. Why do I feel that way? How can I change it? Who from around me can help? That’s why, it necessary to have managers who are aware of the organization’s culture. Women can be more supportive of each other.

  • 21:11Opens a new window – Can you tell us about how the future for women in data science and AI looks in 2022 and beyond?

We will see more women in the AI and women as data scientists. There is more place for women and open jobs to women. So, I’m really looking forward to seeing more CVs in my inbox from women and I’m really looking forward to also promote more women as team leads and managers and hear their voices. So that’s what I feel like it’s going to be next year.

Leah KolbenOpens a new window

Leah developed her passion for technology at a very young age. By high school, she had already completed a BSc in Mathematics and Physics and continued along this path in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) Intelligence unit, as an electrical engineer. Following her 3-year service as an engineer, Leah advanced her learning, earning a BSc in Computer Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem while simultaneously working as a software team leader at WatchDox, which was later acquired by Blackberry. In her most recent position, before founding, she lead the startup, Appoint, as CTO and has followed her career consulting enterprises on AI and machine learning.

About cnvrg.ioOpens a new window is an AI OS, transforming the way enterprises manage, scale and accelerate AI and data science development from research to production. The code-first platform is built by data scientists, for data scientists and offers unrivaled flexibility to run on-premises or cloud. From advanced MLOps to continual learning, brings top of the line technology to data science teams so they can spend less time on DevOps and focus on the real magic algorithms.

About Tech Talk

Tech Talk is an interview series that features notable CTOs and senior technology executives from around the world. Join us as we talk to these technology and IT leaders who share their insights and research on data, analytics, and emerging technologies. If you are a tech expert and wish to share your thoughts, write to [email protected]Opens a new window

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