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Diversity and inclusiveness of culture, the new buzz words in the corporate world, are the values Israeli and American businesswomen believe should get more women into managerial positions.
"Relating to diversity is one of the newer values of companies," said Ruth Gorenstein, Managing Director of Larosh Investments Ltd. at the "2006 America/Israel Women's Dialogue: Beyond Equality to Empowerment," which was organized by the American Jewish Congress and Tel Aviv University. "We shall see more women in managerial positions because of that."
Speaking on the panel "Women in the Corporate World," Ofra Strauss, chairman of Strauss-Elite Ltd., said that two years ago, before she took up her position, gender issues were not her problem, but that they have since become her problems.
"I realized that it was time to share my experience. I believe women can succeed in the corporate world, but the reality is that only two of the 50 best companies are owned by women," Strauss said.
Diversity of thoughts and cultures is what made the world better, Strauss added.
"I don't feel too comfortable among only men or only women."
Iris Stark, chairman of the Ashdod Port Co., meanwhile, called for affirmative action and proper legislation for the inclusion of women on corporate boards. "There is discrimination, women are not treated as equals. Women want to be in business, parliament and the Knesset, while having a family."
Stark suggested that every company balance sheet should detail the number of women employed and the number of women on their management boards and board of directors.
Other issues raised which were still seen as constituting an impediment to the advancement of women in Israeli society were the indoctrination of traditional patterns such as the stereotype that men are educated to be the main family providers and women have to take care of their children.
Ziva Patir, director general of the Standards Institution of Israel complained that in this country you still have to be a general to get a high position - at least in the public sector.
"The glass ceiling for women in business is still high and sticky," said Prof. Asya Pazy from the Faculty of Management at Tel Aviv University. "Statistics show that the progress is very slow, which gives very little reason for optimism."
When looking at who is presenting a window on the world to the public - in short the media, which influences beliefs, attitudes and standards - the case for women is still not there.
"When I started in the 1970s, women were not supposed to have a career but marry one," said Lynn Sherr, ABC News correspondent on the 20/20 television news magazine. "Nowadays the door for women has opened but there are still not enough women in management, on air and on the Op-ed pages."
Merav Michaeli, presenter, editor and producer on Israeli television and radio commented that in the US there were more options for women on television compared with Israel.
Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, journalist and presenter on Israeli television and radio, agreed.
"The media in Israel is run by men," she said "All commentators are men. Not a chance for women to be on prime time television."
According to the 2005 study by the Global Media Monitoring Project conducted in 76 countries comparing female and male presentation on radio, news and television, only 21 percent of all characters appearing on the news were women. In Israel, the number was even lower at 19%.
"Female images in the media are often relegated to the private sphere and epitomize gender stereotypes," said Prof. Dafna Lemish, chair of the Department of Communication at Tel Aviv University.
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