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.
The number of women entrepreneurs in the Middle East is likely to grow, including in the least likely places. “Well-educated women in Saudi Arabia want to work, but their family often objects,” explained an entrepreneur at the Wamda shindig. “Running an internet start-up from home is the perfect compromise.”