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Israeli tech women protest men-only meeting with Merkel

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TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Women working in high-tech companies posed around a cardboard cutout of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday to protest against a meeting she held with an all-male group of entrepreneurs in Israel last week.

Merkel noted at that session that Israel’s start-up industry appeared to be “very male-dominated”, adding: “It would be better if next time, there was a woman among all those hopeful pioneers of the future”.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry subsequently apologised for the all-male attendance at the meeting, where Merkel was the only woman in a group photograph, and said Israel has many female high-tech entrepreneurs.

That was also the message the protesters said they wanted to get across at Rabin Square, where more than 50 women posed for photographers and TV cameras with a few placards, one of which read: “Tel Aviv is with Merkel”.

“It’s not the first time that it’s happening: you can see summits, events, meetings only with men around the table,” said Merav Oren, one of the protesters and the founder of WMN, a co-working space for women entrepreneurs in Tel Aviv.

“If we don’t raise the awareness like we are doing now it can happen again because, you know, the men were sitting there, nobody noticed there is not a woman around them, there is no diversity in the room.”

Writing by Elana Ringler; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Gareth Jones