A first-of-its-kind report released last week by Start-Up Nation Central (SNC) ahead of International Women’s Daye reveals there is still a long road ahead for women to reach adequate levels of representation in Israel’s tech and innovation sector.
According to the report, women are still severely underrepresented in senior roles such as founders, executives, and management members, compared to male counterparts.
SNC’s figures show that only 4.5% of Israel’s technology companies were founded by all-women teams, compared to 84.5% of companies founded by men-only teams. Eleven percent of companies were founded by a mixed team of men and women, with at least one woman among the founders. The global average for startups with at least one female founder stands at 20%, according to a Crunchbase 2019 diversity report. In the United States, 28% of tech companies were founded by a team with at least one woman, according to the “2020 Woman in US Technology Leadership” report published by Silicon Valley Bank.
A COVID-dominated 2020 did not make things easier for female high-tech entrepreneurs, the SNC report shows. Last year, only 10.9% of technology company founders in Israel were women. This was a significant decrease from the 13.9% of founders in 2019, which was a peak after a decade-long upward trend. It was, however, slightly higher than 2018’s 9.9%.
The portion of female founders in tech by sector showed that the digital health industry tends to have the highest number of female founders at a 16.9% average, according to the SNC report. This was followed by food tech at 15.2% and fintech at 7.6%. Agtech had 7.1% of female founders and Industry 4.0 was at 5.9%. Only 4.9% of smart mobility companies were founded by women and just 3.9% of cybersecurity companies.
The number of female CEOs in the tech ecosystem in 2020 stood at 9%, a figure which remained steady in the last four years, according to the report. SNC’s research team also said that women hold nearly 93% of the executive human resources (HR) positions. In research and development (R&D), on the other hand, women only account for 5% of top management positions.
“Most of the women founders and top managers come from a technology background, a fact that points to the root of the problem,” said Maty Zweig, CEO of Scale-Up Velocity, a sister company of Start-Up Nation Central that develops programs to increase the supply of developers for the tech industry by leveraging Israel’s talent pool.
“Girls and women are insufficiently exposed to tech occupations at key decision-making points in their lives: choosing one’s major in high school, tracks for young women in their military service, and relevant academic degrees. Moreover, the industry should be incentivized to name women to senior management positions at the core of technology operations,” Zweig said in a statement.
“This continued situation is bad for the Israeli economy and a waste of a huge resource that could have solved the shortage of technology personnel and help Israel’s economy thrive even further,” Zweig added. Israel has experienced a consistent shortage of tech workers.
On International Women’s Day last week, NoCamels featured Adva, a program by Scale-Up Velocity that provides academic and hands-on computer science training for ultra-Orthodox women. There is also Excellenteam, a four-month boot camp based in Jerusalem to integrate ultra-Orthodox, female computer science graduates into Israel’s tech industry. Finally, Women of the Future is a program for women who are at a career crossroads. It encourages the pursuit of academic studies in high-tech tracks.
This article first appeared in NoCamels, which covers innovations from Israel for a global audience.