Galia Beer Gabel.

Mitigating AI risks through gender diversity: The essential role of women in high tech

"If we successfully harness the inherent attributes of women starting at an early age, we will achieve much more than a greater representation of women in high tech. We will contribute to building a more effective and successful industry, and a healthier economy that will be better poised to meet the challenges of AI and other major technological changes,” writes Galia Beer Gabel of Team8

Newly available data has shed light on the low rate of women’s participation in Israel’s high-tech ecosystem. According to the RISE Israel Research and Policy Institute, only 16% of Israeli startups that raised capital in 2023 had a female entrepreneur on their founding team - substantially lower than in the U.S. or Europe, where rates were 26% and 25%, respectively.
Female participation in the tech investment landscape isn’t faring much better. While the percentage of female angel investors has reached 34% in the U.S., in Israel it’s a mere 5%. When it comes to women decision-makers at venture capital funds, we’re on par with the U.S. and EU at just 15%. Israel, however, does show signs of change in this area, raising hopes that we’ll soon see a greater number of women partners in the venture space, which could very well lead to more female founders being funded.
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גליה באר גבל שותפה Team8 Fintech
גליה באר גבל שותפה Team8 Fintech
Galia Beer Gabel.
(Photo: Ron Kedmi)
Although the number of women in tech roles has been gradually rising in the U.S. and Europe, the rate in Israel has been nearly flat. In the global tech sector, women account for only 30% of staff at male-led companies, compared with 47% at female-led companies. This worldwide trend is not even close to satisfactory.
The scarcity of women in high tech harms not only women, but the entire industry. Women have a propensity for creative thinking, often excelling in an outside-the-box approach that challenges convention. Such mindsets are critical in an industry that thrives on innovation. Greater female participation in management and mid-level roles contributes not only to technological development, but also inspires a work environment that nurtures innovation, creativity, and originality across the board. The added value women bring is also vital to successful teamwork – another essential tool in high tech. The leadership style that women bring to the table, which is often based on open communication and transparency, creates a healthy office culture.
It’s not by chance that the Peterson Institute for International Economics found a notable 15% boost in profitability for companies that raised their female managerial representation from just a few to roughly 30%. These statistics were first published in the last decade, but they speak for themselves. Since then, the benefits of female participation in high-tech have only increased, particularly in light of the AI revolution. In a world that is moving increasingly toward machine learning and decision-making by algorithms and robots, the highly developed emotional intelligence that women bring to the table is an asset that’s (still) impossible to teach a machine. In other words, beyond their significant professional contributions, the “soft” skills that women bring to high tech have become more crucial than ever, precisely due to the rapid ascent of AI.
So how can we overcome the underrepresentation of women in high tech? How can we harness female power for the good of the industry, especially in an era where the proliferation of AI is prompting rapid technological change? The answers lie in encouraging and nurturing female entrepreneurship at a young age. Starting in elementary school, girls need to grow up knowing that such a choice is possible. We need to inspire them to have high ambitions early on in their lives so they will feel confident, empowered, and motivated to embark on careers in high-tech and venture capital.
We must aspire States to join forces with the business sector and other organizations. Together, we can offer far more training and workshops that provide young women with the critical technological skills they need to succeed, while also encouraging them to transform innovative ideas into business and technology initiatives.
We can and must equip young women with high-level skills in computing, hard sciences, programming, product-development, finance, and marketing, as well as IT and human resources; all this and more. But this is not enough, in an era when technology enables faster and more significant leaps forward in development, it’s vital to enhance capabilities for creative and critical thinking and to provide young women with the necessary skills and the ability to learn independently.
The State would also do well to provide grants to startups with a wide representation of women, and to incentivize VC funds to invest in enterprises that count at least one woman among their founders. It is helpful to look at what’s happening in the rest of the world in this context. The U.S. Small Business Administration, for example, provides guidance, consulting, and access to credit and capital for female entrepreneurs. Similarly, the European Union’s Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), a support network for small and medium-sized enterprises, operates programs for women entrepreneurs to help them secure funding from the EU, as well as access to international markets and new business partnerships. European Women in VC, a broad community of more than 1,000 senior female venture capital investors, provides female entrepreneurs with networking opportunities and connects them with investors from limited partner VC funds.
Lastly, the importance of female mentoring cannot be overstated. Senior women in high tech who are committed to promoting women in the industry can provide priceless guidance to younger women. This is one of the most effective ways to create a future with more female entrepreneurs and employees in high tech leadership roles.
Nor should female mentoring of young men be overlooked. Such interactions with men provide an opportunity to influence their perception of women and transform them into partners on the path toward gender diversity as they advance their careers. As someone who mentors both young men and young women equally, I am closely acquainted with the tremendous impact this process has on men.
It's not a coincidence that today there are many mentorship programs for Israeli women in high tech, starting with those operated by large companies such as the SHESHE program at Meta (Facebook, Instagram), as well as programs offered by smaller groups in the field. These programs also exist elsewhere in the world. The volunteer organization All Raise , for example, was founded in 2017 by dozens of female VC investors in the United States. They provide mentoring and other services to young women in the venture capital industry.
If we successfully harness the inherent attributes of women starting at an early age, we will achieve much more than a greater representation of women in high tech. We will contribute to building a more effective and successful industry, and a healthier economy that will be better poised to meet the challenges of AI and other major technological changes.
The writer is a partner at venture creation and venture-capital fund Team8.