Israeli-Arab pharmacists still facing barriers in their professional integration

A new study by Jerusalem’s Taub Center found large differences in salaries between Jewish female pharmacists and their Arab-Israeli counterparts, apparently due to differences in seniority.

A woman wearing a hijab [Illustrative] (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A woman wearing a hijab [Illustrative]
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Arab-Israeli pharmacists, accounting for about a third of those in the profession here, face more barriers than their Jewish colleagues, including in salary and advancement, according to a new study by Jerusalem’s Taub Center for Social Policy Studies.
Based on in-depth interviews with pharmacists, managers and owners of pharmacies, the authors – Prof. Noah Lewin-Epstein, Prof. Alexandra Kalev, Erez Marantz and Shimrit Slonim – found large differences in salaries between Jewish female pharmacists and their Arab-Israeli counterparts, apparently due to differences in seniority. All the female Arab-Israeli pharmacists interviewed earned less than NIS 10,000 a month, compared to just 40 percent of their Jewish colleagues.
There was almost no difference between the wages of male pharmacists.
Another challenge, the study found, is that it takes considerably longer on average for Arabs, especially those who studied abroad, to find an internship.
To address the situation, the researchers pointed out the advantages of equal integration of educated Arab Israelis into the labor market, among them, the considerable contribution to the development of the Israeli economy and increasing interaction between Israeli-Arabs and Jews, which can reduce prejudices and hostility.
In 2000, about 20 percent of the country’s pharmacists were Israeli Arabs – a rate that is somewhat higher than their share in the overall adult population.
From 2000 to 2010, along with the overall growth of this field, there was an influx of Israeli Arabs, which raised the rate to almost 33%.
A key factor in the shift relates to changes in higher- education opportunities among the Israeli-Arab population, as following the signing of the peace treaty with Jordan in 1994, Israeli Arabs could enter institutions of higher education there.
Those who did not take the psychometric exams in Israel, those who could not meet university-entrance requirements and, especially women, who preferred studying in an environment matching their lifestyle took advantage of this opportunity, and these foreign graduates returned to the Israeli labor market.
Many Jewish employers, however, are concerned about a supposedly lower quality and level of pharmacy studies in Jordan, which makes it difficult for Arab graduates to find an internship. For them, the search can take anywhere from a month to as long as two years because they can’t get internship experience in Israel during their studies.
These difficulties lead Arab-Israeli pharmacy graduates to compromise on their internship placement, oftentimes beginning to work for no pay.
This is in contrast to Jewish graduates, for whom finding an intern position is a relatively short process with the majority securing a job before they even graduate.
The researchers also determined that the job search, itself is much longer for Arab pharmacists than for Jews, albeit considerably shorter than the search for an internships. The main reason, according to the interviews, is that Arab pharmacists tend to stay in their place of employment after the internship ends, whereas Jews tend to switch their place of employment after receiving their full accreditation. Of those interviewed, only 8% of the Jewish pharmacists continued to full employment where they interned, compared to 33% of the Arab Israelis.
Lewin-Epstein, Kalev, Maratz and Slonim also indicated that, despite their high level of representation in the profession, Israeli-Arabs are underrepresented in management positions. Of those interviewed, 47% of the female Jewish pharmacists had management roles, while no female Arab Israelis were in these positions. Among men, 27% of Arab Israeli pharmacists held management positions, as opposed to 62% of male Jewish pharmacists. This can be explained partly by the fact that among those interviewed, the Arab Israelis were, on the whole, younger than their Jewish counterparts and so had not yet had enough time to be promoted to management positions.
Within the pharmacies, Arab pharmacists advance equally to management positions, the study determined, but found that when looking at more senior positions involving decision-making or regional management, there were almost no Arabs in those jobs.