Are there more women tech entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia than in Europe?

Last April, the Endeavor Institute published an investigation Status of Technology Sector in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and it showed The participation of women in that industry was higher than the European average. In particular, it states that women represented 28% of workers in the sector in the third quarter of 2021, while the European average was 17.5% in the same period.

Endeavor, a non-profit organization based in New York that, according to its website, “supports entrepreneurs with potential economic and social impact in their regions”, the data is taken from reports published by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Communications and Technology Information.

Thus, the research states: “The number of technology companies run by women in Saudi Arabia is on the rise. Female entrepreneurship in general has increased, and GEM—the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor—noted that Saudi Arabia is ‘now the only nation in the top 23. – With income GEM economies Creation rate start More in women than men.

The Saudi Ministry of Communications further stated that in 2021 it issued 139,754 new business licenses for women, compared to 65,912 issued in 2015, presenting the figure for 2021. 112% increase in business registrations granted to women Business women in the country.

At first glance, this data on the role of women in the Saudi tech sector may seem dubious, because, although the Middle Eastern country has taken a pioneering path in recent years, the reality is that Women are still far from being full citizens your day by day.

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Actual data?

So, is it possible that they have overtaken European companies in technology entrepreneurship in percentage terms? Charles of HarrasAmnesty International, responsible for technology and human rights in Spain, believes that it is possible that the presence of women in the Saudi technology industry is increasing, although this data must be analyzed carefully.

De las Heras explains that from the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman started the so-called scheme Saudi Vision 2030, the government is working to diversify its economy and not rely solely on oil. This strategy includes sports and cultural measures. For example, the finals of the Soccer Super Cup or the Formula 1 Grand Prix were held there, which caused great controversy.

As a sign of social openness, these changes have also affected women, gradually giving them more rights: from being able to drive a car to accessing labor markets previously impossible for them.

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For this reason, the statistics of women entrepreneurship released by the Saudi Ministry may be correct, but “what is the reality?” de las Heras asks.

“While this is good news, obviously the reality of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is still very, very complicated and very restrictive. They are still under a system that Male parentingWhich imposes multiple restrictions on them on a daily basis,” he says in a conversation with MagasIN.

Being under male guardianship, women need the permission of a man – usually a father or husband – to exercise basic rights such as working or opening a business. Furthermore, according to the latest report on that country prepared by AI, they are still “severely discriminated against in relation to marriage, divorce, inheritance and custody of children.”

They are not hired

Another way to read these data considers the discrimination that women still face when being hired in the labor market.

Endeavor’s research focuses primarily on entrepreneurship and creation rates. start By women, regardless of the figure they represent in the technology sector in general. Therefore, it is not strange to consider the reason why so many women decide Setting up their own business is because it is easier than hiring In established companies.

“It could be,” de las Heras replies. Because what’s going on in the background? Apparently, the law allows employers to hire women, but It costs a lot to overcome these moral or traditional issues.”.

AI experts reveal that these barriers go beyond the cultural sensibilities of entrepreneurs and also influence the structure of companies.

“There are companies that are more open to women’s entry, but these companies also need restructuring in basic things like workplaces. Until recently these positions were closed to women and, although they are now open, There are companies where women have to live in different placesSo to speak, and they don’t have those spaces.”

And he continues: “It’s like if we transfer it to the world of football. A few years ago women could go to football, but they had to be in a certain part of the stadium. Well, it’s the same in workplaces and other places. Because That, even though the law already allows them to be ‘mixed’ with men, some employers still have a hard time.”

And in Europe?

The presence of women in the technology sector is key to the equitable development of technology and ensures that half the population is not left behind in the future. So, whether it’s starting their own business or hiring one, Saudi women’s increasing entry into STEM careers is cause for celebration.

But what happens in Europe? The data has been increasingly ambiguous in recent years, and that’s what many reports have pointed out The number of women pursuing STEM (technological) careers continues to decline.

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This has been confirmed by MagasIN Fabiola PerezFounder and CEO of MIOTI Tech and Business School, the reference education center in new technologies in Spain, where he trains professionals with positions related to the Internet of Things, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and e-business.

“I found two very important data and the truth is that for me, unfortunately, being a woman and dedicating myself to training and new technologies, it saddens me”, begins Perez, who is a telecommunications engineer. is and has been for more than 15 years. Experience in software development and application of new technologies.

“The profile of our student body is professionals with three to five years of experience in STEM careers, and since we established the school in 2017, we have seen a decline in the ratio of women in the class. We had 17% women. Now we don’t reach 10%. In other words, the ratio is actually going down,” he laments.

Perez affirms that there are more and more women in careers related to the social science field E-commerceDigital marketing or web development, while in many engineering it is going down.

Regarding female entrepreneurship within the technology sector, this situation repeats itself: there are more female entrepreneurs in the social sciences than in engineering.

“Recently, the meeting of entrepreneurial women organized by the Spanish Government and the Women’s Commission of the Entrepreneurial Nation was repeated, and I see less and less female founders in the technology sector. The part of sustainability and social entrepreneurship in entrepreneurship is growing a lot. , but not in the most technical part. “

Of course, despite not being so adventurous, one thing is clear: Companies are increasingly betting on female talent for management positions. “In both the artificial intelligence consulting part and the school part, more and more clients are women. Big corporations are betting on them, but it’s true that entrepreneurship is declining.”

To counter this trend, Pérez is committed to showing references to young women and supporting initiatives promoted by women.

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