Israel falls on gender gap index

Unequal pay causes country to drop below less developed countries in rankings.

November 4, 2011 02:37
2 minute read.
Orthodox women sitting at computers.

Haredi women 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Gender gaps in Israeli society, especially in terms of equal pay in the workplace, have increased dramatically over the past six years, according to information published Wednesday by the World Economic Forum.

According to the international organization’s annual Global Gender Gap Index, which measures the magnitude of gender inequalities in some 135 countries, Israel’s ranking dropped by three places since last year to 55.

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Clear gaps between men and women in the areas of economics, politics, education and health put Israel behind less economically developed countries such as Mozambique, Mongolia and Kyrgystan. Iceland leads the index with the smallest gender gaps and Norway and Finland follow closely.

Information presented by the index shows that while Israeli women make up almost half of the workforce, wage disparities between the sexes are glaringly obvious. In areas such as politics and high-level executives, women are poorly represented, although in academics the gender gap is smaller.

Israel’s poor performance improving gender inequalities, especially in the workplace, did not come as a surprise for the country’s Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), led by commissioner Tziona Koenig-Yair.

She told The Jerusalem Post Thursday that it was merely symptomatic of a trend that has not been addressed for two or three decades.

“We have been reporting gaps in pay between the sexes for 20 to 30 years,” said Koenig- Yair, who was appointed commissioner only three years ago.

“So Israel has gone down by three spots… it’s just more of the same. There has to be more in-depth research to allow us to understand why there are these gaps in the market.”

A report published last year by the Israel Women’s Network found that the average monthly salary for men is far higher than for women in all sectors of the market, with women making only about 60% of what men take home.

The commissioner said that her office, which is under the auspices of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, had recently completed a two-year study looking at why these inequalities exist.

“We looked at the gender pay gaps in the ministry and noted that one of the reasons for it is the additional benefits employees receives for things like overtime and car allowance,” she said. “Also, managers reported giving overtime to men and not to women, pointing out that women cannot work overtime or do not show a willingness to work overtime.”

Koenig-Yair added that some of the inequalities in the job market stem directly from certain conjugal roles rooted in society.

“These have been there for years and years,” she said. “Once we better understand the reasons, then we will have more than statistics to go on in order to address this problem.”

“Instead of speaking about the figures, the only way we can change the situation is by taking a closer look at what the causes are for the gender pay gap and then plan and execute a strategic plan to close it,” concluded Koenig-Yair.

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