Friday, December 3, 2021 | 03:15 am

‘Glass Ceiling Hasn’t Cracked’ for Women in Senior Tech Roles in Israel

‘Glass Ceiling Hasn’t Cracked’ for Women in Senior Tech Roles in Israel

A first-of-its-kind report released by Start-Up Nation Central ahead of International Women’s Day last week reveals there’s 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 their male counterparts.

Figures show that only 4.5 percent of Israel’s technology companies were founded by a women-only team, compared to 84.5 percent of companies founded by male-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 percent, according to a Crunchbase 2019 diversity report while in the US, 28 percent of tech companies were founded by a team with at least one woman, according to a Silicon Valley Bank, 2020 Woman in US Technology Leadership report.

A COVID-dominated 2020 did not make things easier for female high-tech entrepreneurs, the SNC report shows. That year, only 10.9 percent of technology company founders in Israel were women. This was a significant decrease from the 13.9 percent of founders in 2019, which was a peak after a decade-long upward trend. It was, however, slightly up from 9.9 percent in 2018.

The percentage of female founders in tech by sector showed that the digital health industry tended to have the highest number of female founders at a 16.9 percent average, according to the SNC report. This was followed by food tech at 15.2 percent and fintech at 7.6 percent. Agtech had 7.1 percent of female founders and Industry 4.0 was at 5.9 percent. Only 4.9 percent of smart mobility companies were founded by women and just 3.9 percent of cybersecurity companies.

The number of female CEOs in the tech ecosystem in 2020 stood at 9 percent, 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 percent of the executive human resources (HR) positions. In research and development (R&D), on the other hand, women only account for 5 percent 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 to Start-Up Nation Central that develops programs to increase the supply of developers for the high 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 technical personnel and help Israel’s economy thrive even further,” she 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 program based in Jerusalem to integrate ultra-Orthodox, female computer science graduates into Israel’s high-tech industry. Finally, Women of the Future is a program for women who are at a career crossroads, to encourage the pursuit of academic studies in high-tech tracks.