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More Female Technology Leaders in the Middle East Than West

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Though Silicon Valley is known for being male dominated, in the past few years we have started to see an influx of female technology leaders and founders. “It’s great to be a woman in tech. It’s definitely a buzzy time,” Katia Beauchamp, CEO of Birchbox, told USA Today last year. “We’re blazing a path, but we’re also benefiting from other pioneers.” It turns out that western women are a bit behind their sisters in the Middle East.

According to Wamda, a service provider for startups, women make up 35 percent of internet entrepreneurs in Amman and other Middle Eastern cities. Though more than half of university graduates in many Middle Eastern countries are women, the workforce is still predominantly men. However, the internet presents a whole new playing field for women. In the cities where women are expected to be in their traditional caretaker roles, running a startup from their home computer is still feasible.

“As a woman, you have to fight for everything here—which is a great preparation for being an entrepreneur,” Sarah Abu Alia, the founder of ArtMedium, told The Economist.

Working from home or out of an apartment is also something many American female entrepreneurs do. The real problem is getting them in the tech space in the first place. Only a fraction of the estimated 120,000 computer science graduates in the U.S. each year are women—11.7 percent of bachelor degrees in 2010-11, down from 13.8 percent in 2009-10, according to Computing Research Association. Though more female-founded startups are popping up everyday, just 3 percent of all tech startups are led by women, according to a 2012 Kauffman Foundation report.

Have some thoughts about the female experience in the startup world? Share with us in the comments!

Ask Levo Co-Founder and CEO Caroline Ghosn more about leading the charge as a female entrepreneur and how she feels about this news.

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Another startling fact: According to Mika Brzezinski (cohost of Morning Joe), we're behind Middle Eastern women in other areas, too. Women make up only 17 percent of the United States Congress. The U.S. ranks 72nd of 189 countries in terms of the proportion of women in their national legislatures - behind France, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.


What an interesting article Meredith, thanks for bringing this to our attention!

Meredith Lepore

Meredith is the Editor at Large for Levo League. Before that she was the Editor in Chief of The Grindstone and was on staff at Business Insider. She has written for magazines including Marie Claire, SELF, Women's Health and Cosmopolitan. She earned her Masters in Magazine, Newspaper and Online journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Meredith resides in New York full time and enjoys SoulCycle, jogging and playing with her Yorkshire Terrier Otis, who also loves SoulCycle.