A woman walks near high-rise buildings in the hi-tech business area of Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
While Tel Aviv may be known as a global hub for innovation, a study released on Monday found it has much room for improvement when it comes to women’s roles in the hi-tech industry.
For the first time, Tel Aviv ranked among the top-50 cities in the annual Dell Women Entrepreneurship Cities index.
Yet the city achieved only a 24th-place ranking and earned a score of just 39.6 out of 100 on this gender-specific evaluation, which examined each city’s ability to attract and foster growth of female-owned companies.
“Female entrepreneurship and female presence in businesses and organizations in general have an important added value and great contribution to success, which has already been proven countless times,” said Orna Berry, vice president and general manager of DELL-EMC Israel Center of Excellence and an Israeli hi-tech industry veteran.
“The Israeli education system still has a long road ahead toward instilling the culture and the tools necessary to bolstering the female gender from an early age, in order to dare and aspire high for managerial positions in every field.”
The survey identified New York, San Francisco, London, Boston and Stockholm as the best cities for high-potential women entrepreneurs, based on impact of local policies, programs, laws and customs. All in all, the index determined that when impediments to female entrepreneurship are removed, cities experience a dramatic uplift in their economic prospects.
“Globally, women’s entrepreneurship rates are growing more than 10% each year. In fact, women are as likely or more likely than men to start businesses in many markets,” said Karen Quintos, executive vice president and chief customer officer at Dell. “However, financial, cultural and political barriers can limit the success of these businesses.”
At 24th place, Tel Aviv sat precisely in the middle of the list, right below Amsterdam, Portland, Berlin, Taipei and Pittsburgh, and just ahead of Copenhagen, Vancouver, Houston, Johannesburg and Barcelona.
In a close examination of Tel Aviv, the Dell study praised the municipality for its recent surge in female entrepreneurship, in what has long been a heavily male-dominated sector. The index also credited Tel Aviv for ranking particularly among the cities in the “markets” category (No. 7); policy (No. 7); and in cost indicators (No. 17).
Tel Aviv also tied as No. 1 in the presence of the city portal/ website for business creation, as well as government goals for women-owned business procurement indicators. Lower corporate income tax rates and ease of starting a business – for which Tel Aviv ranked No. 9 and No. 10 respectively – also make the city a desirable location for start-ups, according to the index.
Nonetheless, although Tel Aviv might have a reputation as a hub for hi-tech start-ups, the city lagged behind most of the others in terms of providing access to technology for women, ranking 43rd in this area. The index suggested that one way to better analyze this issue would be to collect gender disaggregated data on technology use in order to benchmark whether such access is equitable.
Two other areas of relative weakness for female entrepreneurship in Tel Aviv were the talent category and the skill and experience level category, in which the city ranked No. 34 and No. 32, respectively. Tel Aviv fell short in the proportion of women with MBAs, while also failing to provide adequate business management courses specifically designed for women, the index said. The presence of female faculty members at top business schools was comparatively low as well.
The Dell WE Cities index encouraged the city to help improve women’s skills and experience by ensuring that more female leaders head local business organizations.
Berry, the general manager of DELL-EMC Israel Center of Excellence, likewise stressed that there is an insufficient number of women leading such hi-tech groups, although more and more women are taking senior roles in their companies.
“This is a situation that needs to be changed,” she said. “The inclusion of Tel Aviv in the global ranking of cities that support female entrepreneurship is definitely a bright spot and a beginning for future hope.
However, the situation report on the Tel Aviv municipality in the WE Cities index reflects our situation in this field as a country.
This is a public appeal to the government and to industry, to advance every sector that today lacks sufficient presence, for various reasons, in its contribution to the infrastructure of the economy.”