Women still face unique job security threats

Though number of women working in Israel's hi-tech sector doubled in last decade, women still earn far less than men.

woman working 248 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
woman working 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Though the number of women working in Israel's hi-tech sector has more than doubled in the last decade, women in general still earn far less than men and often face unique threats to their job security. In a report issued in advance of International Women's Day, being marked worldwide Sunday, the Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry said that in 2007, some 87,000 women were working in hi-tech, roughly seven percent of the industry's workforce. This is a significant increase over the 40,000 employed in the same sector in 1995, the ministry said. However, although the increase in women working full-time in the country's top-paying sector is impressive, the ministry's figures do not reflect the current recession, which has seen thousands of hi-tech employees, including women, made redundant in the last few months. Also in time for International Women's Day, the non-profit labor organization Kav L'Oved released its annual report assessing the more than 5,000 callers to its help line, many of whom reported employers breaking the law in any number of ways. The group noted that women working in cleaning and security lodged the most complaints against employers, including many reports of being unjustly fired over minor incidents. Attorney Michal Tager, the author of the report, said that the figures highlighted the lack of job security felt by many women in Israel, where, she said, companies big and small "often take advantage of those working for them." In one call to the organization's hot line, a supermarket checkout girl revealed how her employer deducted NIS 450 from her salary because a customer's check bounced. "I'd heard the other checkout girls complaining about it when I started but thought that they weren't serious," she told the hot line's lawyers. "But when I got my first paycheck I saw that the money had been taken off, even though no one formally told me this would happen." "Absence of worker's unions and job security means that employees are in a very weak position," said Tager. "Luckily Kav L'Oved is available to help workers fight for their rights." Meanwhile, the Israel Women's Network said that its annual report, to be released Sunday, found a large rise in the number of women either pregnant or undergoing fertility treatment being fired from their jobs. The Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar-Ilan University also released statistics on Thursday ahead of International Women's Day, which noted the growing discrepancies between women's positions in the workplace compared to that of their male counterparts. For example, the center found that men's salaries in 2006 were significantly higher than women's, with 35.5 percent of women working full-time making less than the minimum wage.