Religious IDF women.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Though the gender gap in wages has improved over time, women in Israel still
earn only 83 percent of men’s income on an hourly basis, according to a Central
Bureau of Statistics report released Wednesday, ahead of International Women’s
Day on Friday.
Because men tend to work more hours on average and
represent a larger part of the labor force, the overall income gap is even
higher, with all of Israel’s women taking home about two-thirds the income that
men do, though the percentage has increased 6% from 2002 and 9% from the early
“The gender gap for income exists at every level of education,”
the report said.
Interestingly, more educated women earned even less,
relative to men than their somewhat less educated sisters (77% of men’s wages
for over 16 years education, versus 85% of men’s wages for 9-12 years
Another factor contributing to lower wages was the fact that
a large proportion of women are employed in “traditionally female,” lower-wage
jobs, a fact which hasn’t changed in the past two decades. In fact, 41% of women
fall into six job categories: caretakers, elementary school and kindergarten
teachers, secretaries, “other officials,” “salespeople and models,” and
“cleaners, kitchen workers and laundry workers.”
Women constitute at
least 70% of the workforce in the first four of those job
While women made up nearly half of the skilled workforce
(48.6%), they comprised less than a third of the managerial positions (30.8%).
The lowest income decile is 69% female, while the highest one is only 23%
There’s hope those figures will change. When it comes to
education, there’s been a marked increase in the number of girls studying
academic tracks (66%) and technology (34%) in high school, on par with boys. A
decade ago, 6% fewer girls were studying technology. Dropout rates are lower for
girls than for boys, while their eligibility rates for matriculation exams are
about 10% higher. Women make up over half of the students in higher education
(nearly 60% of master’s degrees), as they have been since 1989. Among Arab
students in higher education, over 2/3 are female.
Of course, one of the
biggest issues affecting women in the workplace is motherhood.
average birthrate for Israeli women in their lifetime is 3.00, up from 2.95 a
decade ago, and significantly higher than the OECD average of 1.71. Yet women
are waiting longer to start having children, with the average age rising to 27.3
from 26.3 a decade earlier.
In many aspects of marriage and
child-bearing, differences among religious and ethnic groups in Israel are
clear. While Jewish women tend to have their first marriage at the age of 25.7,
and Christians at 25.5, Druse get married younger, at 23, and Muslims at 21.6
Divorce rates are increasing as well; the chances of a marriage ending within
its first eight years almost doubled from 1968-1971, when it was 6%, until the
turn of the century. The number of divorces rose some 30% from 2003 to
While the vast majority (90%) of mothers with children under 17
live with a partner, 104,000 women head single-parent homes. Greater proportions
of Jewish women were single mothers (11%) than Arab women (7%).
despite the overall inequalities, women didn’t seek to recoup their losses
through crime. According to the report, women accounted for less than a tenth of
all criminal accusations.