A report that examined 70 Venture Capital funds and 424 private and VC-backed startups that are active in Israel revealed that the average percentage of women represented in companies is 33%. Though there is a more substantial presence of women in large companies (36%) than in smaller companies (30.8%), the representation of women in tech jobs is a mere 27%. When it comes to management roles, being a C-level executive, VP, or director, only 23.4% of these positions are filled by women. That is to say, less than a quarter of the decision-makers in the ecosystem are women. When looking at VCs, only 14.8% of the partners are women and only 9% are investing partners. This piece of data correlates with the percentage of companies that are founded by women in the tech industry which is 12%. These statistics reflect not only the Israeli tech ecosystem but also the global one, as the universal technology industry has only 31% overall female representation.

In order for the startup nation to continue to thrive, there needs to be more diversity within tech. Overall, higher gender inclusivity in the tech industry can lead to better outcomes, with more efficient decision making, bolstered innovation, and enhanced business and economic yields. And so, there is no reason why the human makeup of the ecosystem should not represent the number of women in the general population and the number of qualified women for these roles. Though there has been a significant increase in the number of women that are represented in the tech ecosystem in Israel, it is far from being enough. This series will focus on those women who have made it in tech and tell the stories of their journeys within the tech ecosystem– where they are now, and how they got there. We hope that this series will inspire other women to go after their tech-driven goals and not let gender biases, prejudices, and stereotypes get in their way; we hope to motivate companies to allocate considerable resources to the implementation of diversity programs and focus on expanding the pool of candidates that are underrepresented in the workforce; we hope to encourage government and educational institutions to take measures in providing the tools, support, and means necessary to enable a more diversified tech workforce.

Daniella Gilboa is an acclaimed clinical embryologist and biostatistician, as well as the co-founder and CEO of AiVF. AiVF is looking to bring to market advanced software solutions to transform the IVF journey for clinics and parents-to-be. The multidisciplinary team at AiVF is composed of world-class physicians, embryologists, and experts in computer vision, machine learning and artificial intelligence, with decades of clinical, research, and technological experience. The AiVF team is working toward the common goal of revolutionizing the fertility journey.

When a couple is ready to start a family, there is no greater gift than to be blessed with an easy and healthy pregnancy. Unfortunately, the chances of successfully conceiving naturally decrease with a woman's age. In today's day and age, more and more women are becoming mothers later on in life, toward the end of their childbearing years. As such pregnancies are more complicated, IVF (in vitro fertilization) has become increasingly popular, used as a tool to give older women a higher chance of conceiving. That is one of the major problems within the field of IVF: clinics have a limited capacity with rising consumer demand. Moreover, labs often use outdated technology and manual processes based only on individual experience and knowledge. Since the field of IVF is incredibly competitive, there is a desire for improved success rates. That is what AiVF strives to achieve.

Turning IVF into a more data-driven, predictable science

AiVF has designed a holistic, intelligent solution to introduce certainty into every phase of the fertility process for clinicians, embryologists, and parents-to-be. Their SaaS platform, dubbed EMA™, uses AI to empower next-generation IVF labs and help improve treatment efficiency, efficacy, and quality of care. It provides precision fertility management, an automated and remote deep embryology lab, comprehensive multi-source lab mining, and a patient engagement tool. With their platform, parents-to-be and clinicians have an AI-powered IVF lab, anytime, anywhere. Their platform performs a highly accurate analysis of embryo quality and prediction of the potential for a viable pregnancy, optimizes workflows and task prioritization, visualizes, and monitors key performance indicators, and can be used on-site or remote with secure access. With their software, AiVF is ensuring a fertility journey that is entirely personalized and successful; they are transforming fertility treatment from a costly and inconsistent process into a patient-centred, efficient, and fruitful journey.

In a conversation with Geektime, Daniella opened up to us about her journey through tech, and how she got to where she is today: a founder and CEO of a FemTech startup.

Daniella is a woman who is leading the way in two male-dominated industries: medicine and tech. Though the world of embryology does have many women playing active roles, the world of medicine, in general, is definitely more dominated by men. “Though these statistics are slowly changing, when I first started out in my career, it was very difficult to be a part of these male-dominated industries. However, that has changed over the years, with my experience. Today, being a leader of a startup, I feel very comfortable and am constantly empowered by the community of women founders and other women who are leading startups.”

In the past, Daniella worked for different pharmaceutical corporations, like Teva Pharmaceuticals and Assuta Medical. She claims that her desire to pivot from these more traditional medical roles into tech was in part due to personal experiences had in the field. “While working as a clinical embryologist in the lab for many years, I was beginning to feel very frustrated both on a personal and professional level; I realized I could be making a much larger impact by taking my clinical experience and using it to improve the outdated processes I saw in my field. This desire to make a difference in the outdated IVF world was further exacerbated by my Ph.D. advisor”. Daniella explained that while writing her thesis, her advisor suggested that she base it on the startup world. “Understanding that I can couple the two industries, IVF and tech, together was eye-opening. I understood that this was an amazing opportunity, and one I couldn't pass up. Just because I hadn't done something like this before didn't stop me from moving forward with it– I believe in taking the more unconventional path even though others may choose a safer, more familiar way.” And so, Daniella started her journey to co-found AiVF; to work every day to help fertility clinics understand how to leverage augmented intelligence to improve efficiency and expand capacity while delivering superior outcomes and shorter time-to-pregnancy for parents-to-be.

Getting the startup off the ground wasn't easy. Daniella explained that when she and her co-founders first started the company, it was challenging to find VCs that understood FemTech. “Now, fast forward two years, there has been a real change in the industry, with more and more investments in FemTech. We are proud to be a part of this change as we remain committed to our mission.” In this, Daniella actually admits that she has an advantage as a woman: “As a woman and clinical embryologist, I have clear advantages leading a startup in the FemTech space; my experience brings a level of trust and certainty to investors and customers.” But just as she is trying to break the bias against women in tech, she wants to do the same for men in FemTech. “Everyone on my team, both men and women, is committed to our mission of making families a possibility and reality for all. Our work in IVF requires the intersection of emotion and science to build trust. This is what we stand by to overcome any gender biases. Since infertility issues are stressful for couples as a collective there is an opportunity to learn from and relay the stories of the journeys both women and men take during this process. We want the field to be more holistic and understanding to both genders' needs, with both genders playing a role.”

Being a wife and mother to 3 kids and 2 dogs doesn't stop Daniella from powering fertility clinics with artificial intelligence and going after her dreams. Though trying to balance her family life with her work life can get hectic at times, especially since AiVF is experiencing tremendous growth, she hopes that women working in the field of tech and those looking to join, don't let gender biases or struggles get in their way. She understands that women have a unique challenge when developing their careers. Women in their 20s and 30s are both actively planning their careers while actively planning their families. Daniella notes that in a survey conducted by Professor Dan Ariely, women are more likely to avoid high-risk career choices, such as becoming an entrepreneur, when considering starting a family. “I want to urge women not to give up on their dreams, as more and more women are pursuing entrepreneurship and proving that having a career in tech and having a family are both possible”; Daniella is a living example of that.

To women looking to make a career for themselves, Daniella has some advice: “Be passionate about what you are doing; bring together smart people who complement your capabilities; lead with transparency and collaboration. In general, when striving to succeed in the field of tech and as a leader, I believe it is important to ask questions and ask for guidance. It is important to embrace learning new things and acknowledge that you are learning as you go —these aspects are even more important if you are a woman. Above all, the most important characteristic to have, is to be human. Running a company and making it successful is all about people. Don’t let that slip away”.

Throughout her years in the field, Daniella has helped hundreds of individuals conceive and continues to further scientific discovery by speaking at international fertility conferences and publishing research in leading academic journals. She has been recognized by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) for her work, by being selected to be on their committee. She hopes that her passion drives her employees, company, and fellow women working in tech to continue to be excited about their prospective missions daily.