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Why the Middle East Is a Good Place For Women Tech Entrepreneurs 229

Posted by samzenpus
from the unexpected-sales-pitch dept.
pbahra writes "Conferences for start-ups and entrepreneurs often feature 'pitch contests,' slots in which aspiring entrepreneurs take to the stage to sell their ideas to the audience. Last month's ArabNet conference, held in the Lebanese capital, was no different. What was different, however, was the number of pitches from female entrepreneurs. The stereotype has it that women in the Middle East are subjugated, oppressed and barely let out of their houses. But if that is the case, how come 40% of the pitches were from women—a higher percentage than is typical in equivalent conferences held in Europe? Nor was this closer-to-equal representation of women unique to ArabNet--other conferences in the region boast similar ratios."
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Why the Middle East Is a Good Place For Women Tech Entrepreneurs

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  • Soooo.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by baldass_newbie (136609) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @09:39AM (#39656793) Homepage Journal

    How many of them still had their clitoris?

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday April 12, 2012 @09:41AM (#39656829)

    The stereotype has it that women in the Middle East are subjugated, oppressed and barely let out of their houses.

    In Saudi Arabia, that's *not* just a stereotype. Not to say that Saudi Arabia is representative of the entire region. But let's not pretend that more pitches from women at some conference makes it okay for one of the largest countries of the region to still tell women they can't drive, vote, show their faces in public, or even leave their house without male escort.

  • by sideslash (1865434) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @09:41AM (#39656835)
    Both may be true -- that this conference was friendly to women running startups, and also that women in many parts of the Middle East are drastically subjugated versus women in at last European and American countries. Who wrote this summary, anyway, and with what agenda?
  • Ya know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @09:49AM (#39656945)

    I'll bet they'd be in an even better position if they were in countries/cultures where they didn't have to worry about being stoned to death and could drive themselves to meetings. But that's just me.

  • by alexander_686 (957440) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @09:50AM (#39656961)

    I agree. To elaborate. From the article: “Home working also allows women to combine their traditional roles of homemaker and mother, with being an entrepreneur.”

    It’s not unusual for women to run business – but I find this sentence telling. There is a difference between starting a good solid small business and a start up.

    The first is basically about creating a job for yourself. It may be a restaurant, day care, or a small professional business (lawyer, hair stylist, whatever ) but it’s about creating a job for yourself that lets you manage your life /work balance.

    The second is about putting in long hours for months at a time to hit that grand slam.

    This is, of course, a continuum between the two. I am just surprised that the submitter and article is pitching it this way. Are these woman truly liberality if they are forced into the shallow end of the pool? Small, home businesses are great, but it’s the lower end of the entrepreneurial market.

  • Re:Ya know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:04AM (#39657147)

    You mean like lebanon where this meeting took place?
    Not all of the Middle East is Saudi Arabia. Yet, the US backs Saudi Arabia while they do these things and threatens to attack Iran who does not.

  • by operagost (62405) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:16AM (#39657325) Homepage Journal
    Correct. Islam is the main problem. The Qur'an says that beating women is a step in the process of obtaining obedience, and there are several references in the Hadith of women being inferior.
  • Ouch... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Troyusrex (2446430) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:29AM (#39657489)
    The article stressed how the women in Saudi Arabia could "Work from home". It neglected to say that the almost have to since they aren't allowed in public without a male relative around.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:32AM (#39657545)

    1. Liberals don't want anyone to pay for someone else's birth control. We want women to pay for their own, through their insurance. Since shopping around for insurance is generally infeasible, we want to make sure that insurers do not discriminate against women's sexual health.

    2. Liberals do not fall in line with Islamic radicals. Liberals denounce and campaign against many elements of extremist religions, including Islam. Liberals fight for women's rights around the world. However:

    A. Liberals do not lump all Muslims into a faceless, extremist block. There are lots of Muslims that adhere to humanist views on gender, sexual orientation, politics, and religion. Yes, there are many extremist Muslims, and many poor and undereducated Muslims that are taken advantage of in extremist societies. But Liberals recognize that Islam isn't the root of these issues, it's just that in some cases is a tool by which its adherents are exploited. We would rather solve the root causes (poverty, inequality, inadequate education) than attack Islam itself.

    B. Liberals do not believe that bombing Middle Eastern countries is the best way to address those root causes of extremism.

  • Re:Soooo.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jawnn (445279) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:23AM (#39658283)
    Troll? Seriously? Because the Middle East is such a hotbed of advances in the area of women's rights, I suppose.
    Yes, yes. It's not fair to paint the entire region with one brush, but to even remotely suggest that the region, in general, isn't still influenced heavily by ass-backwards, women hating, religious fucktards is to miss a stupendously obvious reality. I'd say the same about Tennessee, but I think women get a moderately better shake there.
  • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:42AM (#39658569)

    Would the person who modded me "troll" please point out where my information is incorrect? Read the sayings of Mohammed as recorded by Al Bukhari: "A nation headed by a woman shall never succeed"; "If I have commanded kneeling for somebody, I would command a woman to kneel for her husband", "Women lack brain and religion". And the Qur'an, I think it's in Sura 5, "As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them, refuse to share their beds, beat them; but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of other punishment)." Don't deny the truth.

    You can split hairs about this all day long but in the end it is pointless to make fundamentalist arguments like "if the Quran tells you to do <some misogynistic act> all moslems must be following that instruction mindlessly". This is especially true because the Bible is full of similar misogynistic and inhumane crap. When was the last time you saw a couple guilty of adultery begin stoned to death at the city gates? (That little gem came from Deuteronomy 22:23-24) Both the Quaran and the Bible were written in very different times long ago and that fact should kept in mind when reading either text. If you really want to convince us that all moslems take every archaic passage in the Qaran seriously then we must by the same logic also argue that all christians do as well. Thankfully most moslems and christians (apart from some die-hard fundies) do not take everything written in the Quaran literally and implement every crazy thing that is written in scripture. Only brainless fundies do that.

  • Re:Ya know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:52AM (#39658801)

    Islam is young, in another 1000 years it will be as tolerant as those Christians who call women sluts for wanting birth control. You probably won't live that long so you can continue your mindless hate against the "Other". Turkey wants to join the EU, so they cannot do what you are claiming will happen.

    Indonesia is also majority Islam, over 85%, and has had a female president, something many Western nations have never done.

  • Re:Soooo.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by g8oz (144003) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @12:17PM (#39659267)

    Thats primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa not the Arab world. It does happen in Egypt, but a recent campaign enlisted local Muslim clerics to preach against the practice and is evidently meeting with success.

    Don't you hate it when facts interfere with glib one-liners?

  • by Quila (201335) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @12:19PM (#39659305)

    Female circumcision is an African tribal custom, not Middle Eastern. It is now associated with Islam since most of the area was conquered by Muslims,. Muslim rulers generally let the locals continue their customs, and a lot of conversion was a converted king who told his populace to convert, but didn't dare risk rebellion by abolishing popular customs such as this. Arguments still continue as to whether it's an acceptable practice under Islam.

  • by Quila (201335) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @12:42PM (#39659731)

    Thankfully most moslems and christians (apart from some die-hard fundies) do not take everything written in the Quaran literally and implement every crazy thing that is written in scripture.

    First, we need to separate personal choice from law or enforced custom.

    A tiny percentage of Christians still practice strict biblical Christianity (believe gays should be put to death, women wear head covering in church, etc.), and NONE of them are able to put that into law to force others to obey their interpretation. In fact, they're generally laughed at or condemned by the society at large -- see the Westboro Baptists.

    A large percentage of Muslims still practice strict Quranic Islam, and many of them have it in law and enforced custom to force others to obey their interpretation. People are constantly jailed, beaten and even executed for violating these religious laws.

    There is a BIG difference in practice between Christianity and Islam.

    Both the Quaran and the Bible were written in very different times long ago and that fact should kept in mind when reading either text.

    People have been studying the Bible with this view for quite a long time. However, this has only recently started to happen with the Quran and Hadith, and such a thing should not be done in a Muslim country if you value your life. The Quran is still considered the absolute, unchanging, infallible Word of Allah by most adherents. That and Hadith form their law. If gays were to be put to death then, they are to be put to death now. Allah's law does not change.

  • by jvkjvk (102057) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:04PM (#39660151)

    Your words would be commendable, but we have every day knowledge of how women are actually treated by proponents of the religion, in the current time. They would be more commendable if you didn't create arguments that no one has made - e.g "all moslems must be following that instruction mindlessly".

    You are the only one making that argument, and you do it so you don't have to fact the actual reality of what is happening.

    When was the last time you saw a couple guilty of adultery begin stoned to death at the city gates?

    Well, they generally just stone the *woman* now, so that's ok?

    You can claim the "no true scotsman" argument only up to the point you have actual governments that have implemented policies. It is then no longer just the die hard fundies - they have inculcated the society to accept their basic premises. This is easily seen by the lack of prosecution of people who murder their female relatives who have brought "dishonor" upon their house.

    Sorry, but you are the one being the brainless fundy, making up your own toy arguments and vanquishing those wooden soldiers.

    Regards.

  • Re:Soooo.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jessified (1150003) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:12PM (#39660321)

    I concur. The whole article seems to be trying to say that the Middle East isn't a sexist place.

    That's like saying saying racism didn't exist in the 50s because some subset of black men were allowed to become a doctors.

    "You see? X-bias doesn't exist because some token example contradicts the mountains of examples where the bias does apply."

    Honestly. Does anyone here watch Star Trek? (Of course you do.) Does this not remind you of the Ferengi, as mainly depicted in DS9? The only difference I can see is that the Ferengi prefer their women unclothed rather than fully covered.

    How about some examples from this article:
    Lets start with the picture of the business women covered up from head to toe. For every one woman that truthfully and freely prefers to be dressed like that, how many are coerced by a sexist society?

    More flexible work options, freelance, home-based work, low capital requirements; you can see why starting a company on a small scale is a much more viable thing for women to do than get a corporate job.

    Why is that?

    In Jordan, specifically, the main reason for women not entering the work force is the lack of a proper transit system. We don't have an affordable transit system that can take women from remote areas to the city.

    Is the lack of public transportation not an issue for men, too? Why do women suffer from a lack of public transportation but men do not?

    Home working also allows women to combine their traditional roles of homemaker and mother, with being an entrepreneur.

    There it is. Women belong in the kitchen. Also, I imagine it's less embarassing to have women doing business anonymously over the internet, because no one needs to know she's a woman.

    He said that some private-sector companies would consider employing women, but were put off by the cost and the lack of knowledge of how to hire them. "One of the problems is that they don't know where to go to find the right kind of talents."

    Apparently, hiring women costs more than hiring men, and it's apparently much harder to assess the abilities of women than it is for men. Did not know that.

    If you were to look at the law, even in a country that claims to be as liberal as Lebanon, technically if your husband wanted to prevent you from traveling, he can. Technically you cannot open a bank account as a married woman, your husband has to do it. However, in practice these laws are not enforced."

    Well, it's not a repressive country if they simply don't enforce oppressive laws...for now. And that's an example of the most liberal middle eastern countries!

    It would be ironic if a region that is castigated for its attitudes toward women actually turned out to be more welcoming of female entrepreneurs than those doing the castigating.

    Right. The entire article depicted a more welcoming environment than the western world.

    The fact that any women are succeeding despite living in repressive regimes speaks to their strength of will, not the supposed "progress" of those countries.

  • by amiga3D (567632) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:07PM (#39661511)

    I think the left tend to sympathize with the Islamist because they are the only other group that hate Christians as much as they do. Actually that's inaccurate, the majority of Muslims want to live and let live as much as anyone but there are so many extremists that are so full of hate and they have so much in common with the Hollywood left as far as hatred of Christians. It's funny to me because both sides, absent their common enemy, would despise each other totally.

  • Re:Soooo.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jessified (1150003) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:12PM (#39661633)

    Thanks. The question was rhetorical. All three of those answers make my point for me.

    And let there be no doubt that western societies still suffer from sexism too, for example, as evidenced by the fact that it is more dangerous for women to walk around in the dark than for men, as well as the nature of the crimes women are more likely to face vs those face by men. Of course, between the two regions, we are talking orders of magnitude of difference.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:25PM (#39661909)

    Go to Jerusalem and piss on a Bible or a Torah, then go to Makkah and piss on a Quran.

    Post results.

    All superstitions are of course bad because they are nonsense, and because they are enemies of truth. Why we should respect anything thought up by people who thought the Earth was flat is highly questionable.

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a camel's behind. -- Edgar R. Fiedler

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