Updated: Jan 13, 2022
A new study (unsurprisingly) finds that women continue to be underrepresented in Israel’s hi-tech industry
While Israel’s high-tech industry accounts for roughly 15% of the country’s GDP, 25% of all income tax and 43% of its exports – with a population that is 51% female – women remain underrepresented in this lucrative, ever-expanding industry.
A new study by the Power in Diversity (PID) initiative finds that the percentage of women in Israeli start-up companies and in Venture Capital funds active in the country is a mere 33%.
In larger companies there is a more substantial presence of women than in smaller ones (36% and 30.8%, respectively). According to the researchers, this “supports the argument that it may be more challenging to perform diversification processes in smaller companies.”
The researchers suggest reasons that might explain this phenomenon, such as the fact that
big companies have a larger operating system as well as a greater pool of resources which are focused on recruiting. Moreover, large companies have a greater need of HR, legal, finance, and support roles that are typically filled by women.
When it comes to the more technology-oriented jobs, it’s even worse – the representation of women in tech jobs is a mere 27%. As for management roles (the C Level, VP, directors), only 23.4% of these positions are filled by women. Less than 25% of the decision-makers in the ecosystem are women.
Digital health paves the way, telecom and VC funds are trailing behind
The study examined gender representation in several industries, and concluded that the digital health one presents the most positive data regarding women's representation in leading roles in the ecosystem, with over 60% of the companies in the industry presenting over 45% of women (employees) and at least 35% of women in leading roles.
The industries that have the lowest percentage of women represented in the workforce are the cyber security, automotive, electronics, and telecommunication industries with 27%, 24%, 20.8%, and 18% respectively. This data may be partially explained by the (smaller) number of women educated in these disciplines.
Regarding representation in VC funds, only 14.8% of the partners are women and 9% only are investing partners. This data correlates with the percentage of companies that are founded by women in the tech industry – 12%. While this is an increase from previous years, it is far from enough.
"I believe that 2022 will be the Year of Diversity for our start-up industry. The last couple of years have been extraordinary for the Israeli ecosystem, with much funding, public companies, and unicorns. However, there is much to be done regarding diversity,” said Kobi Sambursky, Funding Partner at Glilot Capital Partners and Co-Chair of the initiative.
“Similar to stat-ups, VC must also be proactive by employing many more women, Ethiopian Jews, Orthodox Jews, Arabs, individuals with disabilities, and other populations. The first step is full transparency. We hope and believe that our following reports will present an improving trend. There is no doubt that the Start-up nation needs diversity to keep on thriving," he added.
"There is no reason why the makeup of the human factor in the ecosystem should not represent the number of women in the general population, and, furthermore, the number of qualified women for these roles,” said Sivan Shamri Dahan, Managing Partner at Qumra Capital and Co-Chair of the initiative.
Over 220 VC and start-ups work together in the Power in Diversity (PID) initiative. Their goal is to broaden the representation of diverse and varied population in the high-tech industry. The report examined which examined 424 start-up companies and 70 VC funds.
Helping companies understand the importance of diversity
This report is the first step in the creation of a diversity index which pertains to women, Orthodox Jews, Arabs, Ethiopian Jews, the elderly, individuals with physical or mental disabilities, and individuals on the autistic spectrum.
According to PID, the index will help Nasdaq-listed companies or those that are in the initial public offering stage to comply with the new Employment Diversity Requirements. It will also help companies demonstrate the cultural diversity of their employees.
Furthermore, PID members are hopeful that the index will help investors understand the values of the company and capture the creativity and flexibility of the management team.