Study: Israeli women see high earnings as 'un-feminine'

Study finds women afraid to make financial demands, be the primary breadwinners in their house.

Woman using laptop in office corridor  (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Woman using laptop in office corridor
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
A University of Haifa study has concluded that Israeli women are willing to do unpaid tasks without credit and don’t seek out higher wages in part because they find it to be unfeminine.
“The cultural mechanism in Israel dictates a situation in which femininity is associated with care-taking, and thus women give up on competitiveness and assertiveness ahead of time,” said Dr. Amalia Saar, the anthropologist who conducted the study. “In that kind of situation, women approach negotiations at their jobs at a disadvantage, apologetic and thankful that they were even hired.”
Saar observed and interviewed about 100 women participating in an economic empowerment course over the course of a decade. Despite the participants’ stated desire to earn more money, the women were afraid to make financial demands, she found.
In addition, they were afraid to be the primary breadwinners in their house.
Saar attributed the phenomenon to gender expectations, in which women are expected to be caretakers and homemakers and men the financial providers.
“Unlike a man, who sees the goal of earning NIS 15,000 as an incentive, a woman will see in it something frightening,” she said.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the average Israeli woman’s salary in 2013 was 31.9 percent below that of the average man, although much of the difference could be explained by number of hours worked.
A large part of the pay gap was because women did not advance into upper management and executive positions.
Changing the situation requires raising awareness from both men and women and a greater sharing of household responsibilities, Saar said. Women would be well served by taking the time to seek recognition for their efforts, which could help them get credit for the work they do when promotion time comes around, she said.