A Matter of Mind-set

Rima Mariah is 23 years old. She hails from Daliat al-Carmel, a Druze town on the Carmel range just south of Haifa. She works at a company called Agam-Mehalev, which is implementing the government employment program called Orot. Agam-Mehalev's raison d'etre is to help people find work. It is a joint venture of an unlikely pair: a Dutch company called Tinguely and an industrial engineering Israeli company called Mertens-Hoffman, which specializes in industrial project management, establishing engineering and management systems, research, surveys and assessment studies, and logistics.

Tinguely and Mertens-Hoffman also share management of Agam-Mehalev.

The people who come to Agam-Mehalev generally receive income supplements from the state, but would like to find real, paying jobs. Mariah is responsible for developing the software that runs the placement program. She graduated from high school with honors, after which she took a year's break while she deliberated what to study.

"I consulted with my father. He recommended that I study computers. I applied to the University of Haifa and the Technion University, and was accepted at both," she says.

She chose to major in management information systems and human resource services at the University of Haifa, and graduated in 2009.

"While searching for work, I heard from friends that Tsofen [a nonprofit organization devoted to equalizing opportunity for Jews and Arabs in high-tech] was providing a course, to train Arab engineers," Mariah says. She took the course and graduated in August 2009.

She went to two job interviews, one in Tel Aviv and one in Nazareth, at Agam-Mehalev. She was accepted at the latter and began working in October

She says she doesn't know if racism plays a role in which Arab engineers get jobs in high-tech.

"The problem is that [female] Arab students finish a degree in computers and go to work as teachers for computers, or as secretaries," she says.

Only people who think big can go far, she adds. (Guy Grimland)