For the first time in its three-year history, IBM’s annual list of the world’s 40 leading women in the field of artificial intelligence includes an Israeli — Hagit Tzafrir, head of the Health Division at Harel Insurance and Finance Group.

Tzafrir was selected by the multinational company in recognition of her artificial intelligence project “Ella the Digital Assistant” that provides digital customer service on Harel’s website and WhatsApp.

According to IBM, women represent just 26 percent of the AI workforce. “IBM launched the Women Leaders in AI program as a force for change, because we believe inclusivity and gender equality drive better outcomes.”

The list includes 115 honorees from 25 countries.

Its entry on Tzafrir reads: “Harel Insurance & Finance, the largest insurance group in Israel, targeted several key processes in health insurance that could be fully or partially automated using AI. They partnered with IBM to develop a unique healthcare bot using IBM Watson Assistant. The assistant provides healthcare, policy, and coverage information, billing amounts and balances, and the status of submissions and claims, with more services in the pipeline. Customers, agents, and enterprise partners all use the system.

“Hagit Tzafrir led the business objectives and design of the project, which has increased customer satisfaction and reduced workloads in operational and service units.”

Harel issued a statement that said: “Hagit is an outstanding employee who grew up in the company and is an inspiring example of a group of young and talented managers here who combine professionalism with humanity, as well as commitment to the company along with commitment to employees. Thanks to employees such as Hagit, Harel is able to produce successful and effective developments that give significant value to customers, and place us at the forefront of technology and innovation.”