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Behind the project

For the second year, we are publishing the "Lady Globes" magazine outstanding women entrepreneurs project.

For the first time, a substantial cohort of female leaders has emerged in the Israeli high-tech industry. These are entrepreneurs who have founded their own startups and have even raised funds from investors.

We started the Startup Nation – the Female Revolution project last year, in 2016.

Most of the entrepreneurs in the current list took part in the second delegation to Silicon Valley to meet investors and representatives of the large global Internet corporations.

The first such delegation of women went there in November 2016. For seven days, I accompanied twenty women who had already raised millions of dollars and who presented disruptive technological developments, some of them revolutionary.

Even in Palo Alto, where if you throw a stone it will land on someone who has already made four exits and a couple of IPOs and who declares that he is going to change the world, they are not used to seeing such a powerful group of female entrepreneurs as the one with which we landed from Israel.

They ignore barriers, strive to fulfil their dreams, and will go anywhere in the world. At four or five o'clock in the morning they are already sitting at their laptops, working.

In the pitches they made to investors in Palo Alto, their maturity and determination were clear.

One of them raised over half a million dollars within 48 hours of landing, just like that. At first, below the surface, hidden competition between them seethed over fund raising – who managed to raise more money for her startup, which product had greater market potential. The competition arose almost from a survival instinct. They had always had to work hard to overtake others. They were also unused to being in one room with twenty women like them. They had always been lone women among men. But the reserve and the competitiveness soon gave way to a very intense connection between them. They gradually found themselves talking about their personal lives, and consulting one another.

This is a new generation of female entrepreneurs such as we have not known in the past: energetic, with a glint in the eye, super-professional, creative, groundbreaking, attempting to succeed in the most competitive places. It's interesting that most of them have a sports background. They have been educated in iron discipline. Most of them are mothers, even to three or four children. They are well groomed. They represent admirably the culture of both-and, something not so common in the US.

As one woman representative of investors from Silicon Valley put it: "On my first impression I was a little disdainful of them, and it took me time to set aside the giggles and hugs and understand that these were very serious startups. Even I had become chauvinistic without realizing it. At first I didn't manage to see the depth."

Is a delegation of women necessary in 2017? The answer is yes. Past delegations were men only. There's still a great deal of work to do on judgmental views of women. Time and again we heard in Silicon Valley about the sexist attitudes that prevail there. It's a place of fierce chauvinism. "You don’t have this burden of inequality, because you were in the army," they tell the Israeli women.

For years, we have written about the absence of women from the top levels in high tech.

More recently, very gradually, gifted women entrepreneurs began to shine forth, isolated instances. And now, a group of women has grown up that didn't wait to be appointed to jobs, but initiated and founded sophisticated startups themselves. They show a high level of expertise, polished English rolls off their tongues, they are financially savvy, and they talk technology, even if their academic background is in philosophy or literature.

This is a new generation of women who if things work out for them will not only make an exit, but will become agents of change for the young generation that sees them as role models. In my view, they are bringing about the big change. Startup Nation? Years late, the female revolution is starting too.

One of the few single women in the delegation told me, "The startup is my child. How can you even set up a date when in the middle you get a call from the US and have to go out to talk for two hours?"

"I always know where to find you," I say to one of them, as she takes up position next to the bathroom. "You have to go to the bathroom not when you need to, but when there is one," she explains. "It's just like raising capital," another one laughs, going in after her. When was the last time you met women cracking jokes about fund raising on the way to the bathroom?

The women's delegation is led by Darya Henig Shaked, founder of WEACT.

Vered Ramon-Rivlin, editor, Lady Globes

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