Study finds stubbornly high gender inequality in Israel

Though slight improvements are noticeable, the study found, there has yet to be a sharp change in trends to close gaps.

July 21, 2015 19:53
2 minute read.

Businesswoman [Illustrative]. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)


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Gender inequality in the labor market, corporate world and political echelons remains stubbornly high in Israel, according to the equality division of the Education Ministry’s annual gender index, presented Tuesday at Jerusalem’s Van Leer Institute.

Though slight improvements are noticeable, the study found, there has yet to be a sharp change in trends to close the gaps.

On average in 2013, Israel’s working women earned 68 percent of what Israel’s men do, a slight improvement from the 66% the study found from 2010-2012. Part of that could be accounted for from part-time work; men worked part-time jobs less than half as much as women did. There were also greater numbers of men in the work force overall: Women’s participation rate was 58.2% compared to men’s 69.4%.

Accordingly, the poverty rate among women was higher than among men, 18.4% to 16.5%.

Single-parent families were far more likely – nearly eightfold – to be led by mothers than fathers.

In 2012, there were 148,000 single moms heading families, compared to just 8,000 single dads. By 2013, the number of single father families fell slightly, while single mother families rose 10,000.

Yet despite all these setbacks, women have outpaced men in education.

In 2013, 48.3% of women in Israel had 13 or more years of schooling, compared to 45.4% of men. Yet only one out of every five Israeli professors is a woman. Though that is a substantial increase from the past, women remained extremely underrepresented at the highest levels of academia.

In the corporate world as well, there were just 6,631 women running their own companies – 15% – while men ran 37,940.

In politics, the Knesset voted in a record number of women in 2015, but at 28 of 120, they are still less than a quarter of the total. The proportion of female ministers increased as well, but only because the overall number of ministers dropped.

Naomi Chazan, co-director of the equality division and a member of the steering committee of the gender index, said that affirmative action is required, at least temporarily, to solve the problem of women’s underrepresentation in the public sector.

“Among other things, it’s necessary to set numerical targets in key positions in the public sector in order to increase the representation of women in a relatively short period of time,” she said.

Hanna Herzog, also a co-director of “equality” and steering committee member, said that solutions should be tailored to different populations.

“The consequences of an action plan, of laws, of various policies, and the distribution of resources must be examined in light of the different needs women from different groups have in order to ensure that gender justice and equality will not be restricted to women of a particular level alone,” she said.

Among Arabs, for example, women’s labor force participation was just 26.3%.

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