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The Middle East Beats the West In Female Tech Founders 156

Posted by timothy
from the domestic-relations dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes with this except from the Economist: "Only 10% of internet entrepreneurs across the world are women, according to Startup Compass, a firm that tracks such things. Except in Amman and other Middle Eastern cities, it seems. There, the share of women entrepreneurs is said to average 35% — an estimate seemingly confirmed by the mix of the sexes at 'Mix'n'Mentor,' a recent gathering in the Jordanian capital organised by Wamda, an online publication for start-ups. Reasons abound, and they are not always positive, says Nina Curley, Wamda's editor. Although more than half of university graduates in many Middle Eastern countries (51% in Jordan) are women, the workforce is dominated by men (women provide only 21% of it overall, and a paltry 16% in Jordan). The internet, however, is a new space that is more meritocratic and not as heavily male. The technology also lets entrepreneurs work from home, making it easier to raise children."
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The Middle East Beats the West In Female Tech Founders

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seems that the cultural contribution of the West that Middle Eastern women should wear less hijabs and more bikinis has not, surprisingly, been a primary vector for women to reach equality in high-status tech roles.

    Perhaps the secular plan should be filled-out a little better in implementation, before being forwarded as an essential requirement to leave behind their primitive religion, with all the benefits that seems to be failing to entail.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Breastpounding of this being a western influence aside, if the times for women to be tech founders in the ME is now, then as a result it will be more popular and more will do it (and this is all good) but that does not mean it is a lasting effect, it could level out much lower than in the west or it could level out much higher, only time will tell - but for now we should be happy for the people who now have one more choice of path to make their life better.

      • Re:4. ??? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by icebike (68054) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @09:49PM (#44281105)

        Breastpounding of this being a western influence aside, if the times for women to be tech founders in the ME is now, then as a result it will be more popular and more will do it (and this is all good) but that does not mean it is a lasting effect, it could level out much lower than in the west or it could level out much higher, only time will tell - but for now we should be happy for the people who now have one more choice of path to make their life better.

        Large percentages of the ME men, (yes, even in fairly tame countries like Jordan) have been shunted off to jihadism or the armies that attempt to control it. So they have had a decade of war (or closer to two decades), with disproportionate male losses.

        Meanwhile the women start "companies", although the story says "Many firms run by women entrepreneurs deal with what are labelled female issues (weddings, parenting advice, recipes, and web businesses)". So other than keeping other women entertained, these are hardly the same thing as running industry, developing resources or running banks.

        If you count these empty-afternoon enterprises as business you have to realize that this kind of stuff doesn't even get counted in the west. (And in the US you can't even tell except by inspecting first names if businesses are owned by men or women, gender tagging business licenses just isn't done).

        It seems likely, when when the ME men settle down and stop trying to force Islam on the world, they will start forcing it on their families, and this "trend" of female entrepreneurship will disappear.

        When you can look at a news photo of an Arab street and see 50/50 ratio of men to women (instead of 100males to 1), call me. Because until then, all the filling of afternoons while the children are at school with pretend companies means nothing.

        • Re:4. ??? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @11:08PM (#44281419) Journal
          I have a friend from Korea, he told me, "My grandpa always forced my mom to eat at a separate table from the men, until she started making the money. Then she didn't give him any until she could eat at the normal table." Now that tradition has disappeared from Korea.

          Making money is one potential road towards equality.
        • This is some of the most sexist bullshit I've ever seen on Slashdot, and that is saying something. Why don't we equally discount businesses having to do with sports, car enthusiasts, video games, power tools and tech gadgets? A business is a business, and if they are making money then it counts. Just because it is a traditionally "female issue" doesn't make it any less useful to society. Guess what? Half of consumers are female, and they vote with their wallets what is important to them.
          • by stdarg (456557)

            Why don't we equally discount businesses having to do with sports, car enthusiasts, video games, power tools and tech gadgets?

            We do. If guys were only involved in those businesses, and women ran the banks, hospitals, factories, research labs, etc. then I would be very sad as a guy.

        • by mjr167 (2477430)

          That is where the US was just over 50 years ago. We had a male labor shortage during the world wars and when the men came home and the fighting stopped, the women didn't go home. They started attending college for home economics so they could get jobs as teachers, decorators, party planners, institution management, and other "soft" jobs.

          Once the fighting stops and the men go home, you won't see things go back to the way they were. Societies do not change overnight. You do not wake up one morning and red

    • by sFurbo (1361249)
      TFS indicates that this is due to sexism holding women out of traditional jobs, leaving starting your own tech company as the only possibility, and you somehow interpret that as a negative for secularism? Wow.
  • Arab potential (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @07:36PM (#44280509) Homepage
    Up to about the years 1200-1400 the Arab world was pretty cool. While we Europeans were living in an age appropriately designated the Dark Ages much of the Arab world was doing cool math, Cool science, Exploration, trade, arts, and medicine. They were fairly tolerant of other religions and were one of the few bright spots on this planet. Then around 800 years ago it all seems to have gone wrong. "Trouble in the Middle East" has been a newspaper headline since the invention of the newspaper. Personally I would love to know what changed 800 years ago as it might give a clue as to how to make it right again. Maybe lots of female internet entrepreneurs is a step in that direction. I wonder if there were more female entrepreneurs in the middle east 1000 years ago?

    So all I can say is good luck!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      If by "tolerant of other religions" means "forcing other religious groups to pay a poll tax" then I guess that's true. And that was in that 1200-1400 bracket, and of course in that same period those same "peaceful people" were slaughtering, ransacking and still persecuting people in Spain after the Umayyd Conquest of Hispania nearly 500 years earlier. It really hasn't been any different at any point in time over the last 1500 years. People were slaughtering each other, by the time muslims finished up in

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        If by "tolerant of other religions" means "forcing other religious groups to pay a poll tax" then I guess that's true.

        Meanwhile, in most of Europe, the Christians were busy killing anyone who disagreed with them, sometimes with spectacular methods like burning at the stake. Yes, paying a tax was far more religiously tolerant than their contemporaries.

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          Meanwhile, in most of Europe, the Christians were busy killing anyone who disagreed with them, sometimes with spectacular methods like burning at the stake. Yes, paying a tax was far more religiously tolerant than their contemporaries.

          And meanwhile in the muslim world, they were burning people alive, quartering them, and throwing them out in the desert with no water when they committed heresy. And if you refused to pay the poll tax, they killed you. Also to note, that said religious minorities had a weaker standing in all laws, but still ranked higher than women.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Also to note, that said religious minorities had a weaker standing in all laws, but still ranked higher than women.

            "Had?" In the past tense?
            Take a look at the current traffic fines if you happen to kill men and women of various religious backgrounds. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diyya#Saudi_Arabia
            In Saudi Arabia, when a person has been killed or caused to die by another, the prescribed blood money rates are as follows:[9]
            100,000 riyals if the victim is a Muslim man
            50,000 riyals if a Muslim woman

            • by Anonymous Coward

              In the cited article above, they mention this:

              And he who kills a believer accidentally must pay Diyyat to the heirs of the victim except if they forgive him.

              Now, this part unwittingly explains why honor killings are not crimes in the Muslim world, since believers are the property of their relatives. Therefore, if someone kills his wife/sister/daughter/mother, then the sentences for it are pretty light, if at all. And the new Sharia regimes that are coming up - including the one that's attempting to take over Syria with Western support - are seeing to it that honor killers do not get ANY sentences AT ALL, since the

            • by Mashiki (184564)

              I was attempting to be kind to the poster I replied to before hand, but that's pretty much the point.

      • Many people of all religions still "pay a tax" today. That being a weaker grasp of science limits their success in the modern world. Be it getting a tech job or just getting duped by bad food and medicine.
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @08:13PM (#44280703)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1te01rfEF0g [youtube.com]

      In particular the part you are interested in starts at 23:45, though the overall segment starts at around 19:20.

      The short version? Religious fundamentalism.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Personally I would love to know what changed 800 years ago as it might give a clue as to how to make it right again.

      Part one of your question: What could have possibly caused change 800 years ago in the Arab world?

      Pulled off Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

      Reconquista (718-1492)
      People's Crusade (1195–1196)
      First (1095–1099) and Immediate Aftermath
      Second (1147–1149)
      Wendish (1147–1162)
      Third (1187–1192)
      Northern crusades (1193–1290)
      German (1195–1198)
      Fourth (1202–1204)
      Albigensian Crusade (1208–1241)
      Fifth (1217–1221)
      Sixth (1228–1229)
      Seventh (1248–1254)
      Eighth (1270)
      Ninth (1271

      • by _xen (79742)

        Not to argue that the Crusades did not contribute (they clearly did), but your list omits the Mongol conquest of Baghdad in 1258, which is generally reckoned to be the end of the Arabic Golden Age.

        Also a few entries on your list --e.g. the Wendish, Northern and Albigensian Crusades --probably had little influence on the Middle East.

      • You think the crusades were what caused the Middle East to change from a scientific powerhouse to a ethnic backwater? Isn't that a little Eurocentric? There are other things that happen in the world besides Europe. Not everything good, or bad, comes from there.
      • by tnk1 (899206)

        I hope you realize that throughout most of that, the Muslims were also attacking their way into Europe. Please don't get the impression that they sat down after the Crusades and got beaten down. Right before that Siege of Belgrade was something called the Fall of Constantinpole in 1453. And Turks were still besieging Vienna in 1683.

        The reason the Muslim empire fell apart was because it fractured internally. Eventually everyone and their brother wanted to be caliph. The Turks managed to get some control

    • by manu0601 (2221348)

      Personally I would love to know what changed 800 years ago as it might give a clue as to how to make it right again

      Civilizations are suprisingly like any living creature: they rise and collapse. Do not only look at collapse reasons, the raise reasons may also be insightful.

    • Re:Arab potential (Score:5, Interesting)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @10:02PM (#44281171)

      Then around 800 years ago it all seems to have gone wrong. "Trouble in the Middle East" has been a newspaper headline since the invention of the newspaper. Personally I would love to know what changed 800 years ago as it might give a clue as to how to make it right again.

      I know I'm going to get mod-bombed to hell and gone for this, but christianity happened. There's an old African proverb, "Once we had the land and the white man had the bible. Now we have the bible and the white man has the land." The Arabs were busy unlocking scientific secrets and storing up knowledge during that time out of necessity -- it's not a forgiving land. It has limited resources, and if you aren't smart about managing it, you die. Generations of resource scarcity meant that their culture stressed history. The first written languages came from the same region. Moving from a barter economy to a cash economy also came from there. And the thing is, this knowledge was shared -- it wasn't kept secret, or considered blasphemous per-se. Not like it was in Europe where the idea that the Earth wasn't the center of the universe nearly got Copernicous nailed to a cross anyway.

      The Christians made numerous attempts to send armies into their lands -- and failed each time. But although the military campaign failed, the cultural changes that contact with them brought was ruinous to their civilization in the long-run. Think of it as being a bit like how America reacted to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 -- they really hadn't much exposure to terrorism before, so their first real taste of it caused a massive overreaction that has crippled the economy, sent millions into poverty, and triggered far-reaching changes in their way of life. But in reality, it was just a couple dozen guys who knocked down a few buildings. It did more damage though than fifty hurricanes.

      There's plenty of other historical examples too -- Japan and China's isolationist policies, for example. When America steamed into Japan, they forced them to open their borders, and thousands of years of culture caught fire and burned in a matter of years. Similar things have happened to China repeatedly when people have crossed the mountains into their territory.

      Cultural contamination is what brought them down -- specifically, from European christians.

      • by Nimey (114278)

        No, it was really the Mongols sacking Baghdad that brought an end to the Islamic golden age and the rise of fundamentalism.

        It's not unparalleled - in the Old Testament we see incidents of the Jews picking fights with bigger countries, losing, and deciding that they had lost because they'd been too socially liberal so they'd lost their god's backing, followed by a wave of fundamentalism.

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        You are viewing the history from a slanted angle. Yes, there were Crusades, but so too were there significant inroads by the Turks and Arabs before them into Europe. Recall that most of the Middle East was a set of Christian Eastern Roman Empire provinces when the Arabs attacked in the 7th Century. Christianity didn't "happen" to the Muslims, Islam happened to the Christians. It's just that they were fighting back ever since.

        Aside from in Spain, the most territory that the Crusaders every got their hand

      • Your assertion on Islam versus Christianity might be true on a certain level. I am a Chrisitan from India. The Hindu beliefs I carry - which were not imposed by anyone - are far more stronger than whatever Christianity has tried to impose. India and the polytheist Hindu philosophy with its 33 1/3 million gods always found space for new religions. We absorbed any new god, compared to other Abrahamic and monotheist religions who felt a "new god" stole the thunder and the adherents had to be blocked/killed/ra
      • The Arabs were busy unlocking scientific secrets and storing up knowledge during that time out of necessity -- it's not a forgiving land. It has limited resources, and if you aren't smart about managing it, you die. Generations of resource scarcity meant that their culture stressed history. The first written languages came from the same region. Moving from a barter economy to a cash economy also came from there.

        Seems to me all that happened before Islam. Islam seems to have put the brakes on mid-east progre

        • by dkf (304284)

          Seems to me all that happened before Islam. Islam seems to have put the brakes on mid-east progress.

          Actually, they were doing OK — some political problems, but generally still OK — but the thing that really caused things to slow down was the discovery of trade routes round the Cape of Good Hope. That greatly reduced the amount of revenue from taxes on trade between India and Europe, particularly in spices, and made the Middle East a lot poorer (and Europe quite a lot richer). FWIW, it also caused a lot of problems for some European states that depended on the same trade (e.g., Venice) at the s

    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      The West had the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment. The Middle East had a few attempts at secularism (most notably with Ataturk), but for the most part has remained stuck in the past.

  • Pakistan, a fairly radical islamic country had a female head of state before the vast majority of western democracies... Just sayin'.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Might be more impressive if her daddy wasn't prime minister before her.
      Political families don't impress me much.

  • This is interesting. It may be the harsher conditions that limit options, and part of it is likely class. Part of it may be the acceptance of over-the-top misogynistic behavior in some Western tech communities is constrained by tighter constraints on speech overall. The US is doing terribly at inclusion of women in cs and engineering. The percentage of women in engineering and in CS peaked in the eighties and continues to decrease. Microsoft being cool with a rape joke for Xbox One and the widespread
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just how many women are raped in computer games?
      I know what you're thinking: just 1 woman is 1 too many. And you'd be right in thinking that.

      But in contrast 99.9% of victims in computer games are men, and these men are routinely:

      * eaten alive
      * burnt
      * drowned
      * cut in two
      * shot by regular guns
      * shot by plasma rifles
      * shot by arrows / javelins
      * blown-up
      * stabbed
      * crushed
      * ejected into the vacuum of space
      * ripped apart
      * dropped into acid
      * electrocuted ... shall I go on?

      You see, men are the disposable gender. So

  • I wonder is this could be one factor:

    In societies where male and female normally interact with each other at all ages, males with poor social skills in general might gravitate towards fields that are dominated by interactions with machines or technology rather than people. Therefore women perceive the male community in these fields as hostile.

    In societies with gender segregation, everyone has poor skills interacting the the opposite sex, so technology is the same as every other occupation.

  • Another thing the west does is force black people to play in professional sports. Today a black man is not allowed to do anything but play mother fuckin basketball. Do you have any idea how demeaning it is for a proud black man to be forced to play what is essentially a children's game day after day. 'No negro you are not allowed to program computers, your moneky ass has to play basket ball day in and day out.' I really hate the west and our racism. Make some cracker play some bball once in a while. B

  • Different culture (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I live in a third-world country where there is a similar phenomenon.

    We have a huge number of female entrepreneurs here - many of them are extremely successful even by Western standards, and many more earn a Western wage in a poor country, which gives them an extremely comfortable standard of living.

    What is the secret? It's largely down to motivation. The concept of family is extremely important here - much more so for women than for men. If a woman gets pregnant and has a child, the husband/boyfriend can le

    • by Velex (120469)

      This is interesting.

      Coincidentally we seem to have the opposite situation over here. Women can choose to start families whenever they want with little regard for how they'll support their children, and they can also shut out the father from her life entirely with little to no consequences, both financially and socially. If she chooses to shut the father out of her life, we're more than happy to garnish his wages (no financial consequences whatsoever), and because women have the privilege of being presu

  • by styrotech (136124) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @11:40PM (#44281529)

    Middle eastern countries are a somewhat diverse bunch in terms of overall attitudes. I can imagine quite a large difference in how well women do overall in say somewhere like Lebanon vs Saudi Arabia.

    I didn't notice any links in the TFA, but they only really mentioned (vaguely) stuff from Jordan. I don't think Jordan is at the Saudi end of the scale here.

    • Actually I worked in a university in United Arab Emirates near the border of Oman, and there were about 10x more females studying IT & post-grad in computer or engineering related fields than male students!

      We assume it is because the local Emirati's in UAE are so rich that they don't need to study or work, but since females are expected to marry and become a house-wife & mother, the most obvious way for them to not have that way of life is if they become a professional. so we believe this explained

  • "The Middle East Beats the West In Female Tech Founders" I did not expect that.
  • There is a higher percentage of female CEOs in the "third world" also. Cheap domestic help may be the biggest contributor.

  • One need only look at Mohammed's wife to be unsurprised that even today, Muslim businesswomen aren't exactly unheard of. Sure, there are oppressive countries, but that's government, not a core facet of Islam.

  • when you lock your women in the basement.

  • Pakistan beats the US in number of female heads of state.

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