Programs throughout the world are being aimed at girls from an early age to drive them to follow their hearts – and minds. These innovative programs consist of a large push for women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and at the same time, female business entrepreneurs in Israel are also taking the stage.
Israel is one of the leading nations in the world for tech and startups. It is a modern democratic country where those who work hard can better themselves, regardless of the gender divides that existed years ago. Women hold positions in government and the medical professions, education and clergy; and now, women in business and entrepreneurship are becoming prominent. Israel ranks as number 11 out of 59 developed countries in regards to participation of women in the workplace. It can also be seen that Israeli women are in fairly high executive positions, and are ranked 24th out of the 59 countries accounted for.
Struggling with the gender gap
Why is this a big deal?
To understand this question, one must understand the years of frustration and discrimination that have affected women in every country. Even after women started obtaining higher education (and women today hold about 60% of the world’s undergraduate degrees), women in the work force had to compete with men who would not, presumably, be taking time off to start families.
Stereotypes of women-only work have only recently started to shatter, as companies throughout the world are able to offer women appropriate time off for pregnancy, and dads are being allowed to take time off to care for newborns, as well. The progressive nature of our society is becoming even more flexible, and allowing women to obtain the positions they deserve.
A United States Dow Jones report in 2012 stated that “companies have a greater chance of either going public, operating profitably or being sold for more money than they’ve raised when they have females acting as founders, board members, C-level officers, vice presidents and/or directors.” This fact is being proven true all over the world, and women in Israel, too, are taking the reins.
Israeli women in technology
There are now multiple Israeli networks meant for women in startups. Yazamiyot, Hebrew for “Female Entrepreneurs,” is an online support site that women can join in order to get information about meetups, lectures, training sessions, and conferences. It was founded in 2010 by Hila Ovil-Brenner after frustration at being overlooked in the business world, even though she was the leader of a successful startup. Thanks to Yazamiyot, female entrepreneurs now have a network and sounding board they can use to propel themselves forward.
Another female-run company, Technit, was created for women in technology to share ideas, lessons, and opportunities. Additionally, at Women Think Next Conference by Microsoft, 2012, female speakers from technology backgrounds served to educate others in the theme of career management. Women in Israel are moving towards the possibility of gaining even more presence in the business world.
Other women have started companies addressing a variety of topics. Dr. Kira Radinsky, thanks to an extensive background in programming and data mining, founded SalesPredict, a company which works to advise salespeople on how to identify and handle promising leads. Sivan Barowich founded Innovation for Africa in 2008, helping communities in Africa obtain vital resources through technological innovation. Additionally, Daphna Nissenbaum, who started out as a computer engineer, eventually brought her creativity and entrepreneurship into developing environmentally friendly food packaging. Another woman, Ayelet Noff, is a major player in the Israeli social media and technology blogging forefront. To read more about these female Israeli tech leaders, check out NoCamels’ recent feature.
What is next for increasing the number of women in this industry even further?
Some advocate more for a different approach in primary education, while others promote grants and funds directed towards women in the industry. The ultimate factor though, is the lack of female role models in the industry – a fact that continues to discourage females from attempting to be a role model in the industry. At this year’s closing Israel Independence Day Ceremony though, fourteen prominent and diversely impactful women were chosen to light the twelve torches representing the twelve tribes of Israel, and acting as women who will become great role models for women all over the world.
The women of Israel have given themselves a strong push to see through the boundaries society has created. Slowly, Israeli women are chipping away at the stereotypes which prevent them from using their skills. With greater encouragement of women in tech and startups, they’ll know exactly which tools to use.
Success Stories of Women in the Startup Nation
Apropos women entrepreneurs, OurCrowd held a webcast as part of our Teach-In Tuesdays series on the recent progress of women entrepreneurs, why we are seeing more women-led enterprises and what it will take to encourage more women to take the entrepreneurial plunge. For more information and to view the webcast, click here!
|Naomi Barnett is a rising junior at Binghamton University in New York, where she is studying Marketing and English. She loves running, music, drawing, and of course, writing.|