Female workers face tough odds

Third of working woman earn very low salaries, study finds.

cleaning lady 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
cleaning lady 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
More than a third of working women in Israel earn no more than minimum wage, according to a report published by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, ahead of International Women's Day on Saturday. "The focus on the group of female low-income wage earners is important as an indicator for a group that is poised to fall into poverty despite their integration into the labor force," Osnat Fichtelberg-Bermetz of the ministry's Research and Economics Department said Monday. "It appears that the majority of women on low salaries will not be able to reach much more mobility over the course of their working life and get stuck in their current situation." Fichtelberg-Bermetz said the main problem of future mobility in the labor market was that the majority of female low-wage earners were low-skilled workers. "The only way to change this situation is through government interference," she said. "The government should support women who want to acquire skills and training by offering special programs for this purpose in an effort to help them improve their socioeconomic situation, while raising equality in Israeli society." In Israel, 35.5 percent, or 370,400, of all employed women over the age of 18 earned up to the minimum wage, compared with 14.2% of men, according to the report. One out of four female minimum-wage earners worked more than 35 hours a week. Only 23.3% of working women earned more than the average monthly salary in the economy, compared with 42.1% of men in the labor force. The report is based on 2006 figures provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics, during which the average minimum wage was NIS 3,459 a month. The study found that 53.4% of female minimum-wage earners were married, 31.4% were single and 15.2% were divorcees or widows. The report also showed that 58.6% of working women earning a minimum salary did not have children below the age of 17; 15% were mothers with one child; 21.4% were mothers with two children; and 5% were mothers with four children or more children. The majority of women earning minimum wage worked in cleaning positions, kindergartens and elementary schools, and in kitchen and laundry jobs. The report also found that some employers preferred men over women based on the assumption that women who have a family cannot work as many hours.