In Jerusalem

Haredi women: A new force in the country's economy

A workforce to be reckoned with.

While the public’s attention focuses on getting haredi men into the workplace, women have begun to develop their own wage-earning potential. These statistics from the Israel Bureau of Statistics and Bank of Israel give a perspective on women in Israel’s workforce. Seventy-three percent of women in the general population participate in the workforce. In the haredi sector, 68% of women participate in the workforce, of which 35% are working in part-time educational positions (compared to 17% in the general population). Forty-four percent of haredi women are working in part-time positions.

Orthodox women traditionally work to support the husband’s Torah studies, but in modern times, the problem has been finding workplaces that honor Orthodox modesty codes. The secular work environment is an uncomfortable place for a haredi woman. If a man extends his hand on being introduced, she’ll be in the awkward situation of explaining that she doesn’t shake hands with men. She closes her ears to office flirtations and hardens herself to casual swear words, certain kinds of humor, and gossip. To avoid these tensions, women from ultra-Orthodox communities have usually settled for low-paying jobs that offer few opportunities for advancement: teaching in schools like the ones they attended themselves, or working as secretaries in religious institutions.

Read More..., the online edition of the Jerusalem Post Newspaper - the most read and best-selling English-language newspaper in Israel. For analysis and opinion from Israel, the Jewish World and the Middle East. offers expert and in-depth reporting from Israel, the Jewish World and the Middle East, including diplomacy and defense, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Arab Spring, the Mideast peace process, politics in Israel, life in Jerusalem, Israel's international affairs, Iran and its nuclear program, Syria and the Syrian civil war, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel's world of business and finance, and Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora.

All rights reserved © The Jerusalem Post 1995 - 2014