Woman in hi-tech
Woman in hi-tech iStock

A new integrative report, the first of its kind, was published Tuesday by the Israel Innovation Authority, describing the low participation rate of women in Israeli hi-tech, and throughout the entire chain leading to technology roles in the innovation industry.

Dror Bin, Israel Innovation Authority CEO, said: “Women represent only 23 percent of jobs in development and cyber roles in the IDF; women make up only 30.7 percent of university students studying hi-tech; only 16.5 percent of leaders of Israeli investment bodies are women; and only 9.4 percent of startups were established by female entrepreneurs. In order to create change, there needs to be a concerted, joint effort by the hi-tech industry and all relevant government stakeholders. This is the shared responsibility of all parties in the ecosystem.”

Findings from the Women in High-Tech Report 2022 indicate that women make up 49.4 percent of students learning for five units of mathematics in schools, and 35 percent of those matriculating in computer science. In the military, 23 percent of those serving in development and cyber roles in mandatory military service are women.

In higher education, women represent 30.7 percent of all undergraduate students in hi-tech related subjects, while in the workplace women represent 33.4 percent of workers in the hi-tech industry, and 28 percent of workers in core technology positions. In venture capital, women are 16.5 percent of partners in the biggest and most active venture capital firms in Israel.

The report also found that fundraising rounds for startups led by women are far lower than those led by men, while 57 percent of the largest and most active venture capital firms operating in Israel in the last few years do not have a single female partner. In management, 9.4 percent of all CEOs who established startups between 2010 and 2021 are women, and women make up 22.6 percent of management positions (in a sample of Israeli public technology companies).

Science, Technology, and Space Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen (Blue and White) commented, “The goal of this important report conducted by the Israel Innovation Authority is to highlight for all of us the challenge inherent in integrating women into the Israeli hi-tech sector.”

She stressed, “Ever since taking office at the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology, we have been working together with the Innovation Authority to face these challenges and bring about real change. We have set clear goals to increase the number of women in hi-tech within two years, as well as to increase the number of women in the Authority's training programs to 45%. The Innovation Authority has a variety of tools to promote this important issue – and together we will bring change.”

She added, “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.”

“Furthermore, research shows a decrease in interest in the sciences among female students in elementary schools, and therefore, we are working together with the Ministry of Education on a program for hi-tech education which will be launched at the start of the next school year, from the kindergarten level and up. Understanding the challenges we face – which this report does – will enable us to formulate actions that will bring about real, positive change in this sector. I believe all parts of government should work together on this highly important issue.”

Dror Bin, Israel Innovation Authority CEO: “The participation rate of women in Israeli hi-tech and the capital they manage to raise is low, even compared to other countries. 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 hi-tech industry and the different government departments. The Israeli hi-tech sector spearheads Israeli innovation and breaks new records year-on-year. However, with regard to gender equality, Israeli hi-tech still lags behind. Only around a third of Israeli hi-tech employees are women, and this figure is not increasing over time.”

“At every step on the way leading to the hi-tech industry, and within it, women are a minority. When we look at senior positions – such as the number of female startup founders or partners in venture capital firms – the situation is even worse. In recent years there are encouraging signs of growth in the rate of female students for hi-tech related subjects, an increase in the rate of females matriculating in computer
science, and other measures, however the progress is very slow. Greater participation of women in hi-tech is key to our ability to address the problem of human capital shortages in the industry.”

The Israel Innovation Authority report was conducted in collaboration with the Women in High-Tech Initiative, and details in-depth the variety of areas and indices that reflect women's situation throughout their lifespan.

Less women apply for Israel Innovation Authority grants, although the rate of support for men and women is similar. The proportion of female entrepreneurs who apply for an R&D grant from the Israel Innovation Authority, which is designed to promote the development of companies with technological innovations starting from the seed stage, is 10 percent of all grants, while the rate of female grant applications for implementing innovative technologies (Pilots Program) the rate stands at 11 percent.

However, the proportion of Authority's approved requests submitted by men and women is similar, i.e. there is no sign of a gap in the quality of the requests according to the parameters through which the Israel Innovation Authority examines requests for support. Meanwhile, 44.5 percent of the startups grant requests at the R&D stage were submitted by female entrepreneurs were approved as opposed to 49.3 percent of male requests, and in the case of technological implementation grants (pilots), 19 percent of female requests and 21 percent of male requests were approved.