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Israel’s hi-tech industry has left women behind

According to a new report, women represent a mere 22% of tech managerial positions and under 10% of start-up entrepreneurs

Illustration. BIGSTOCK / Copyright: auremar
Illustration. BIGSTOCK / Copyright: auremar

Women in Israel represent only 23% of cyber jobs in the IDF; 30.7% of university students studying high-tech; 16.5% of leaders of Israeli investment bodies; 22.6% of tech management positions; and 9.4% of startups creators. Only 35% those who matriculated in computer science in high school last year are girls.

This grim data was published on Wednesday by the Israel Innovation Authority. “The goal of this important report is to highlight for all of us the challenge inherent in integrating women into the Israeli high-tech sector,” said Orit Farkash-Hacohen, Minister for Science, Technology and Space.

“We have set clear goals to increase the number of women in high-tech within two years, as well as to increase the number of women in the Authority's training programs to 45%. The Science Ministry has doubled the programs aimed at advancing future female scientists, and programs promoting excellence in teenage girls in the field of engineering and exact sciences,” added Farkash-Hacohen.

“The participation rate of women in Israeli high-tech and the capital they manage to raise is low, even compared to other countries,” noted Dror Bin, Israel Innovation Authority CEO. “In order to narrow the gender gap, we have to speed up the processes, and act on each issue raised in a joint effort of the high-tech industry and the different government departments.”

“The Israeli high-tech sector spearheads Israeli innovation and breaks new records year-on-year. However, with regard to gender equality, Israeli high-tech still lags behind. At every step on the way leading to the high-tech industry, and within it, women are a minority,” said Bin.

Are recommendations even applicable, or just lip service?

In its report, the Innovation Authority made several recommendations, such as establishing programs to encourage teenage female students to study mathematics, technology and science in high school; Proactive activities to increase the number of women serving in core technology roles in the military, including developers and cyber; Setting quantitative targets to increase the number of female students for subjects relevant for integration into the high-tech industry, and more.

However, aside from using big words like “increase”, “expand” and “promote” – it remains unclear how all of these goals might be achieved in a generally traditionalist society, where women (despite, again, big words) are still expected to carry the brunt of the household work – and on top of that, still get paid less than their male counterparts.

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