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Profile: Galit Steinberg, co-founder of Mao-Tou

Women in Tech: “Empathy is what makes great products”

Dominik Mohilo
women in tech

Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Three years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Galit Steinberg, co-founder of Mao-Tou.

research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Three years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Galit Steinberg, co-founder of Mao-Tou.

Today’s Woman in Tech: Galit Steinberg, co-founder of Mao-Tou

women in techI’m Galit, 31 years old, from Haifa, Israel. I’m the co-founder of Mao-Tou, a tech company that develops gaming overlays to help gamers get better. I studied my MA in education and design at Wizo Haifa Academy of Design and my MA from the Department of Knowledge and Information Management from the University of Haifa.

When did you become interested in technology?

Technology is the key mediator between the visual world that I create on my canvas and the people that actually use it. Learning about new and existing technologies shows me the boundaries and the possibilities that are out there.

As a visual communicator, I can create vector elements and call them an interface, but someone needs to translate this graphic element into code. Without understanding, even in abstract terms, the basic concepts of technology my work will be limited and even boring.

As a design student, I’ve incorporated technology with my work., For example, I’ve created, with help from my friends, a robotic hand that can write letters, turned 8-bit interfaces into popup books, and tried to play with technology and design as much as possible.

How did you end up in your career path?

After I graduated from design school, I started working as a graphic designer at a tech company. During my first year there, I felt like the design background was not enough for me and I needed to expand my knowledge beyond the visual communication field. I decided to search for something not only techy but a field that can provide a new perspective and understanding of technology and human-tech interactions. Knowledge and information management gave me just that and I’ve started to dig into statistics, ML, data retrieval, along with HCI and CMC topics.

Parallel to my academic and professional path, I started to fall in love with games. I have always loved playing video games, but it’s now turned into real, unconditional love.

Not long ago I met Overwolf, a company that provides a platform for developers to create in-game apps and mods for video games. They offer opportunities for developers who have not yet established themselves in the field of video games to create new apps. Overwolf provides all the support that is needed, whether it’s guidance, knowledge, or even funding.

Together with one of my closest friends, Boaz, we founded a small company that is dedicated to creating apps and providing solutions for gamers. It allows me to execute and implement the knowledge I’ve gathered so far (and keep expanding) into an observation of the existing technology. The understanding of the technological boundaries and the development of tools and apps for the gamer helps them to improve.

Did you receive support from your family and friends? Do you have a role model?

I feel very lucky to have the support of my family and my friends that happen to also be gamers. They love the fact that I’m pursuing a career path in the gaming industry.

I’ve noticed that at work, and in my personal life, I’m surrounded by amazing women that have plenty of skills, approaches, and perspectives. I try to uncover those qualities in myself every day.

I was happy to find that in my first job in the tech industry, there were a few women at the top who encouraged me to work harder and learn more. I was lucky to meet my first boss, who is a strong woman that has super amazing qualities of design and management, and I have learned a lot from her.

Did someone ever try to stop you from learning and advancing in your professional life?

Not directly, but I do remember that options did not present themselves easily. I know that I have to work extra hard to prove myself. In high school, there was only one teacher that believed I could succeed in a science class, and even today when I play PC games with random people, their first assumption is that I’m going to be bad just because I’m a female gamer.

On a more general note, I was sad to find that academic institutions are rarely changing their curriculum and approach, and they aren’t always aligned with the tech industry. I had to fulfill my hunger for knowledge in other ways like online courses and friends.

I’ve noticed that at work, and in my personal life, I’m surrounded by amazing women that have plenty of skills, approaches, and perspectives. I try to uncover those qualities in myself every day.

A day in Galit’s life

At the moment I’m working at a company that I founded with my gamer friends and we are working closely with Overwolf on apps for gamers. I’m in charge of the UX/UI and my partner Boaz is writing the code. We work closely and do everything together including the whole process of imagination, wireframes, specification, QA, and product launch. This allows me to learn and gain experience in developing web apps from start to finish, while we try to stay true to our users, make products that they will like to have, and manage schedules and budgets.

My typical day changes depending on the project I’m working on. Some days I will brainstorm with my teammates and appraise new product ideas and other days I will translate concepts into user flows, wireframes, mock-ups, and prototypes that lead to intuitive user experiences. Some days I even spend a few hours with the accountant, but the most fun part of what I do is to play video games and communicate with the users.

What are you most proud of in your career?

That people use something that I created and that they use it because they enjoy it. They had a pain point and our app managed to create a positive emotion in a user by solving that pain point. What’s most amazing about it is that this user can be anyone, any age, from any country, and he pops up to our channel and says that he likes our app.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

There are many cultural and educational reasons, but the most crucial in my opinion is the lack of awareness and exposure. First, this too can be solved easily rather than trying to solve cultural limitations. Educational programs for girls, interviews like this, and every kind of exposure method in school or at home can find its path to girls and women that will be able to figure out for themselves what is interesting for them, and that they can do anything they want.

Could you name a few challenges (or obstacles) women in tech face?

There are fields in the industry that are just less visible as options for women. It’s how society constructed them long ago and it’s very difficult for women to get into because of this. And even when they get there, they are rarely perceived as equals. Take for example the gaming industry, where for the past two years women have spoken up about the lack of equality and unfairness and the way they are being treated by peers and managers in some of the biggest gaming companies.

Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?

Approximately 50% of the population are women, but that’s not the case in the tech industry. I believe that if 50% of employees in tech companies were women, the products and technology would be better or at least fitter for the market. We are missing half of our target audience, we are missing the point of view and the knowledge that can be incorporated within the technology that we are developing.

The reason that people really like the apps that we make, is because we have a perspective as gamers on their needs. To fully understand the needs of your audience you need to understand them better, and having more women in STEM means we have a better representation of society.

Take for example the gaming industry, where for the past two years women have spoken up about the lack of equality and unfairness and the way they are being treated by peers and managers in some of the biggest gaming companies.

The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?

Well, the tech world is all about agility, agile schedules, plans, and teams. Agile teams, multidisciplinary, multi-color, and multi-cultural teams can lead to greater empathy.

Empathy is what makes great products. When you know what your users want and need – and treat her or him as a real person – the more they are engaged with your product.

I believe that we are moving forward all the time. The fact that I’m where I am at the moment is proof of that.

What advice (and tips) would you give to women who want a tech career?

Don’t limit yourself to one field of knowledge. Multidisciplinary knowledge makes your communication and collaboration with other women and men more successful. Every piece of information that you can learn is a key and the more keys you have the more doors you can open.

More Women in Tech:

For even more Women in Tech, click here

Author
Dominik Mohilo
Dominik Mohilo studied German and sociology at the Frankfurt University, and works at S&S Media since 2015.

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